Miguel Oliveira finished the Qatar MotoGP test just 19th on the timesheets, one place ahead of rookie team-mate Iker Lecuona.

The good news for the Portuguese was that his race pace is 'much better than half of the riders in front of us'.

But unless a solution to the flying lap woes is found, the Tech3 KTM rider is in danger of losing too much time in the early stages of the upcoming season-opening night race.

“About the time attack, we are still very far away from what we need to be," said Oliveira, who was 1.150s behind Yamaha's Maverick Vinales.

"We couldn’t really use the soft tyre to make a lap time and we mainly focused on the medium tyre to find a race pace, which is right now much better than half of the riders in front of us.

"This is quite scary, but also positive, in a way.

"Of course, we need to start the race a bit further in front. We have some ideas for the race weekend.

"Testing is always a bit tricky, because many riders do a quick lap time and they don’t really have a pace. In race conditions, you can really see who is faster and who is not.

"So, I hope in less than two weeks’ time, we can figure out a way to extract a good lap time.”

Lecuona, whose fastest lap was just 0.293s slower than Oliveira, said: "I have to admit, that I’m not totally happy about today, as there are many factors to manage, from finding grip and staying in one direction to work on.

"When I see the three complete days of test here, I can say, that I’m satisfied, although there are still things to improve.”

Tech3 team manager Hervé Poncharal pointed out that, while the final positions are almost the same as at last year's Qatar test, the gap to the front is smaller.

Oliveira was 0.415s closer to the top this time around and Lecuona -0.720s compared to predecessor Hafizh Syahrin.

"We knew that the Losail International Circuit was going to be more difficult than what we experienced in Malaysia, that this circuit is a tough one for us and although the final positions are not looking great tonight, the gap to the leaders is a lot smaller than last year," Poncharal said.

"I can’t say that we are 100 percent happy, but I believe we gathered a lot of useful data. I trust Miguel, Iker and the whole Tech3 crew to find some solutions to get a few tenths, that will take us further towards the front.

"MotoGP itself is definitely a lot more competitive than it used to be in the past. We have 18 riders within a second, which is showing how close everything is and how small improvements can make you jump a few positions.

"As usual and always, I want to see the glass half full and not half empty, so we give ourselves a few days of rest, a few days of thinking, a few days of finding some good ideas and we’ll be back in Qatar and hopefully where we would like to be, which is in top 10/top 12 positions.”

While the Tech3 riders struggled for a fast lap, Factory KTM's Brad Binder surprised with ninth place on new tyres.

 

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