MotoGP Qatar test: James Toseland thrilled with second

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British rider James Toseland has given himself a massive confidence boost ahead of his first MotoGP race after finishing the final winter test session in Qatar with the second fastest time.

An impressive lap of 1.54.592 on a soft Michelin qualifying tyre looked like giving the Tech 3 Yamaha rider top spot on the timesheets. But as Toseland came tantalisingly close to recording the fastest time at the historic Qatar night test session, double world 250 champion Jorge Lorenzo went a fraction faster.

Just seven minutes remained when the Fiat Yamaha rider knocked Toseland off the top of the timesheets with a best time of 1.54.552 on a Michelin qualifier. It was Lorenzo’s last lap and beat Toseland’s best by just 0.040s.

Speaking exclusively to MCN, the double World Superbike champion said: “It would have been nice to have finished on top. But it was just great to see all those names underneath me. I came to MotoGP to be competitive.

"I’ve had success in World Superbikes and I want to repeat it in MotoGP. It has been a long time since a British has been so close to the top. I am really happy and this has just lifted my confidence and self belief even more.

"It’s hard to imagine that from that first day in Sepang last year when it was really tough that I am now just a few tests later challenging right at the front. I have just got to carry it on.”

Toseland, who was second quickest for most of the first day of testing under floodlights in Qatar said he was now itching to kick off his first premier class campaign back in the Middle East on March 9.

“I know this track but I think my best time on a superbike was a 1.58. So to think I’ve gone nearly four seconds faster is a bit strange. I’ve been building up my confidence on the qualifying tyres because you have to trust just how much grip you have got.

"I was happy with my time because I knew it was going to be fast. It’s surprising how much more power you can run for just a couple of quick laps. On a fast track like this you really notice how much power is taken away in race conditions with the fuel consumption," said Toseland, who was praised by fellow Yamaha rider and seven-times world champion Valentino Rossi.

The Italian told MCN: “For me Toseland has been the big surprise. He is very fast and impressive and I didn’t expect this so soon.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt