John McPhee attempted to find the positives in a frustrating first Moto3 race of 2019, as engine issues hampered him on the Losail International Circuit’s 0.66-mile front straight and limited him to a 13th placed finish.

The Scot qualified in a highly promising fourth place. But after “an absolutely terrible” first lap – “I got run wide … it was my fault” - which left him in a lowly 20th place, McPhee recovered to the back of a lead gaggle of 15 riders.

But an issue with his engine (“in the low gears I was losing the drive to stay in the slip stream”) prevented him from passing riders on the front straight. As a result, the 24-year old was unable to move toward the front in the closing laps and came home 13th, just 1.8s behind debut winner Kaito Toba.

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“First of all, obviously the results didn’t help, but it’s nice to be back racing,” said McPhee. “It’s nice to be able to fight, having a battle. The team did a really, really good job. All week we’ve been working on race pace so I knew I was going to be strong.

“This year we unfortunately just were suffering from a small technical issue. We’re lacking a little bit of speed in the straight. But the rest of the lap I felt really good.

“So in the beginning I made a couple of mistakes. I got run a little bit wide and the first lap was absolutely terrible. It was my fault. Then the rest of the race I was OK. My pace was good. I put the bike forward here. I put up a good fight and made my way through once I got on the back of that front group.

"I was leaving too much on the straight so they were able to get by. The main thing is the bike’s working good. I’m feeling good. I know the speed’s there. It was damage limitation. Points on the board and we’ll move on to Argentina.

“[I’m] Certainly not happy, but damage limitation. It’s a shame for the team, for the boys working hard because the bike was working so good. It was working really good. I felt really strong through the whole race, but because we had a small technical issue I was having to prepare the exit more than I normally would.

“When I had nobody behind me, that was fine because I wasn’t getting passed. I was able to kind of just be on the slipstream. But I was braking up the inside and not lose another space.

“So one of them things. Main thing is the bike’s working good. I’ve got a fantastic team around me. We know we’ve got the speed and it’s a long year. Damage limitation and points on the board in the first race is always important.

“Pretty much after warm-up we were a little bit suspicious. We were a little bit worried. But we checked everything. Everything looked okay. Technically everything worked absolutely fine but in the race I could feel it immediately.

“First lap me going back to P20 wasn’t anything to do with the bike. That was a little bit me, a little bit wrong place, wrong time. Kind of got caught up in two other guys’ accidents which ran me wide.

“So a bit unlucky the first laps, but then I did my job coming back forward again and getting on to the back of that front group. So that was nice to kind of turn around again. It was one of them points on the board is the most important thing right now.”

Looking at the positive side, the Scot was pleased with his Petronas Sprinta Racing team’s working method through the weekend. McPhee had spent much of preseason working on race pace, and believes that work will eventually come to fruition.

“The boys are working really good,” he said. “The bike is working really good. Everything’s there. All the boxes are ticked. We’ll see through the weekend. It looks like some guys are much stronger than others, and you see in the race nobody’s really doing anything super fantastic.

“We know we can be there. Race day is normally the day that I come much stronger. We seen at the beginning of the race my pace was strong. I think we had second fastest lap of the race. The speed’s there, it’s just that little bit extra we needed to get through the back.”

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