Aleix Espargaro believes he can challenge for the top positions during today's qualifying session after finishing seventh on day-one of the Qatar MotoGP. 

Despite finishing outside the top five come the end of both Friday free practices, Espargaro felt the potential of his RS-GP was much higher after leading the way early on.

In fact, it wasn’t until the final ten minutes that Espargaro was removed from top spot during FP1. 

All in all it was an impressive day for Espargaro, who looked especially competitive when it came to his long run pace. 

Espargaro added: "It was a positive day. I’m pleased because we started well. The bike is proving to be better than the one last year and I had the potential to finish much closer to the top. But it’s all good. 

"The important thing today was to finish in the top ten and we did that. 

"I feel fast and we’ll try to do well in qualifying tomorrow because here, with such a long straight, getting out front straight away is extremely important."

Espargaro could also have gone quicker had he not been slowed by team-mate Maverick Vinales during the closing stages of FP2.

Vinales decided to slow in-between corners whilst remaining on the racing line, therefore causing Espargaro to be visibly frustrated with the nine-time MotoGP race winner. 

For Vinales, it was another tough day as he could only manage 15th. The former Yamaha rider cited a wrong ‘direction’ regarding the set-up of the bike as one of the reasons, although that has now become clearer heading into day-two. 

"I would have liked to have been farther forward but I’m not worried,” said Vinales. “It’s just that adapting to a new circuit for this new bike was complicated. 

"The references on the track changed completely and obviously we have not had time here to test many solutions like we were able to do during the winter tests. 

"We tried going in a direction which wasn’t the right one, but now it seems clear where we need to make changes. 

"We need to keep working and improve in every session, beginning already tomorrow."