John McPhee feels the ongoing break since round one of the Moto3 season has probably only increased the importance of his Qatar podium.

The Petronas Honda rider clawed his way from outside the top ten to finish just 0.053s from race winner Albert Arenas during the March 8 race.

Covid-19 then forced a halt to the world championship, but the impressive Losail race at least means McPhee has strong memories to carry him through confinement at home in Scotland.

“The first race of the season was fantastic!" McPhee said. "I think looking back now with this long break, where we don’t know when we can go back racing again, it was really important for me and the team to be able to have started with a podium and even fighting for the victory in Qatar.

“I feel like the biggest step forward [we've made for this season] has been from having continuity with the team and the bike.

"I don’t necessarily feel like I was riding any differently, except maybe a little more confidently because of the fantastic team and people around me, but I think it’s because we know what works well so we’ve been able to work on improving the areas that we’re not so strong in.

"So overall we’ve taken our complete level one step higher.”

Nonetheless McPhee, who took the Sepang team's first and so far only grand prix win at Le Mans last year, is not short of championship rivals.

“If we get to race I feel like the 2020 championship is going to be one of the most exciting and closest yet," he said. "Every year some move up to Moto2 but this year it feels like we’ve had so many come into the championship and be quick.

"We’ve already seen in Qatar that there were 15 riders all fighting for the race win. To actually say one name is very difficult, but of course guys like [Tony] Arbolino, [Albert] Arenas and [Ai] Ogura looked strong in testing and the race.

"Fortunately, I feel really good and I think we’re in with a good chance to fight when we get racing again.”

Since leaving Qatar, McPhee has been staying with his parents in Scotland.

“We’ve started week four of quarantine and the restrictions are more or less the same as the rest of the world. However, we’re allowed to exercise outside once a day, so that’s been a bit of a saviour for me because the weather has been really nice!” he said.

“I’ve been cycling every day, either my road bike or sometimes my mountain bike. I’ve been using the time to keep fit, and actually maybe become even fitter as I’ve been training continuously.

"For my second session of the day I’ve been doing some general strength and conditioning work, either in the house or in the garden. I’ve dedicated some time to working on some old injuries and recovering those areas of my body that aren’t so strong.

"There are always areas to improve so I’ve been focusing on them.”

And a message for the MotoGP fans?

“Thank you for the support, all the messages and all the comments throughout this down time. We appreciate your patience and we hope to be back racing as soon as possible.

"We want to give you guys a show as soon as all this is finished and we’re back to normal!”

 

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