Moto3: McPhee out to make the most of Honda potential

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2016 Moto3 race winner John McPhee has come away from his first test of 2017 – and his first time on a bike since his season-ending crash at Phillip Island last year – delighted with the potential of his new factory Honda machine.

Now riding for the British Talent Team set up around him by MotoGP organisers Dorna and headed by talent spotter extraordinaire Alberto Puig, the Scotsman got the chance to complete his first laps of the year at Valencia last week.

“I’ve came away happy and positive, feeling about as good as could be. The new bike is great – the first 20 laps I did was with a big smile on my face below the helmet. It does everything I ask it to do, and it made a big difference. We didn’t really make many changes to it, to be honest. We left it fairly standard because I just wanted to get laps done and get myself back up to speed before we went changing anything. That’s what we focused on.

“Last time I rode a Honda, I stuck it on pole position twice out of the last three races! We know that when it all clicks that we can run at the front and that I have the pace, so although last year was a struggle it taught me to ride even harder and to be more precise; it made me work more on what I had to do as a rider. Now that we’re on a Honda, it gives us a really good chance.”

However, with only limited time training since the season-ending crash during last year’s Phillip island race, McPhee admitted he went into the test with some reservations.

“I haven’t even been back training until a few weeks ago – I wasn’t allowed to train until mid-January, and I expected to struggle a little with fitness or arm pump. But I finished the two days with no issues whatsoever. It went ideally really.

“The team seems to be working really well too. They’re professional, 100% behind me, and it’s nice to have the whole thing set up around me. Alberto is looking after me, making sure everything is in place and working for me, and it’s been nice. I was almost a bit worried going to the first test, with a new bike and everything, but I’ve come away positive.

“We didn’t run a transponder at the test, just because we didn’t realise there was live timing, but we had our lap times and were able to keep track of the other guys, and I was right there on the pace consistently. We’re not far away at all, I’m feeling good on the bike, and we’ve still got loads of room to explore on it.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer