Qatar test: James Toseland gains confidence and pace

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British rider James Toseland made some encouraging progress on the final night of MotoGP testing at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

Struggling to rebuild his shattered confidence following his huge 125mph crash in Sepang last month, the double World Superbike champion was able to knock 1.5s off his previous time on the final night.

He ended with a best time of 1.58.786 after a 51-lap run that left him down in 15th place, which was way below the form that saw him claim a front row start on his premier class debut in Qatar a year ago.

While he did make some positive steps forward last night, it wasn’t a trouble free conclusion to the penultimate test as Toseland was dogged by a front end issue with the softer of two Bridgestone front tyre compounds on offer in the Middle East.

“I could use the hard tyre without too much of a problem and I felt comfortable. But as the night wore on and the temperature started to drop and the humidity went up, the hard tyre is just too hard to work in those conditions. But with the soft tyre I’m not comfortable at all and while we made some progress with the feel, it wasn’t enough, “the 28-year-old told MCN.

Toseland now has only two days of pre-season testing remaining before the new season gets underway in Qatar on April 12, and he said: “The Jerez test is going to be crucial because I need time on the bike.

“Clearly the bike and the tyres are competitive when you look at the others, but I just need to make the package work for me. It is hard work but I’ve at least been able to push harder on the bike and get some confidence back that I’d lost in Sepang.”

Toseland’s final outing of the winter will be in Jerez on March 28/29. It will be at that test where he will ride in the Monster livery for the first time, with the American energy drink giant announcing a two-year sponsorship deal with the Tech 3 Yamaha squad in Qatar.

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt