John McPhee feels a change of strategy may be necessary at the start of the European Moto3 season after failing to build on an exemplary winter of testing.

The 24-year old Scot has scored just five points from the first three races, with his recent 14th place at the Circuit of the Americas a particular disappointment.

McPhee admitted he “struggled with pace” at the third round of the season, a facet that could be down to his strategy through preseason and free practice.

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Lapping tracks alone, as he did throughout testing, McPhee feels comfortable and “fast.” But when locked in multi-rider fights, such as the one that played out in Texas, he was unable to hold his own in the midst of a Moto3 melee.

“To be completely honest I just struggled with the pace,” he said after the Grand Prix of the Americas. “When I was alone and I could do my own line and carry my own rhythm I felt fast. I think that showed when we had five laps to go.

“I made a mistake in the straight and lost the group a little bit. Then the next two or three laps I set some mid 17’s, so my rhythm was quite fast.

“But I don’t know if it’s maybe because I’ve tried to change my strategy this year. I’ve tried to do everything alone. Even in qualifying I’ve been trying to find my own rhythm and find my own pace.

“I think it’s showing that we’ve got more speed this year, and in the sessions I’m continuously more there, but when it comes to the race and I have to fight and I have to take the tighter line and be able to pass people, I’m struggling to be able to move forward.

“So there’s definitely some work to be done, some areas I can work on. Really disappointed in my results until now. So we just need to keep working at it and try and figure something out for Jerez.”

In Austin a number of Honda’s fancied championship challengers – Lorenzo Dalla Porta, Marcos Ramirez, Romano Fenati, Kaito Toba – also struggled to impact the top ten. Does McPhee feel this was related to his bike’s characteristics?

“In this race I think that’s why the KTMs were so strong because they seem to be able to park it up the inside of people,” he said.

“The way the chassis is set up it’s able to stop, turn and exit, whereas I’m finding I’m having to kind of carry more fast, flowing lines, which is good for a lap time but I’m struggling with them when it comes to having to pass somebody.”

It’s worth noting, the one-time Grand Prix winner has encountered misfortune in the first two races. An engine issue hampered acceleration in Qatar, while a midrace collision with Alonso Lopez in Argentina severed his rear brake cable, which led to a later crash.

Jerez, where McPhee lapped consistently at a preseason test in February, is next up, and offers a chance to work on solutions for overtaking.

“I felt strong there in pre-season,” he said. “It’s one of them tracks, it’s probably going to be a big group again so I need to figure out this kind of thing that I’m needing to be able to help me pass people.

“We’ll work on it. We’ve got some ideas. We’ll work hard and try and come back stronger in Jerez.”

 

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