“It was a positive weekend all around. From the first roll out Friday we made a big step from the test. To show our speed on Friday and then back it up in the Sprint.
“The Sprint was the first time I did more than… It was the most laps I’d done on the KTM up until that point so, it was the first time I did 12 laps, and then the race on Sunday was the first time I did over 20.
“It was definitely an unknown weekend, I didn’t really know what to expect, especially with how busy we’ve been through the off-season. But the team put together an amazing package, a really competitive package for me come race time and we were able to do what we do best and go racing.
“It was a lot of fun, watching the race back, it gives me a big sense of nostalgia. Thinking back to the year 2014, wearing the Alpinestars and riding the KTM, it made me feel young again even though I’m getting quite old now. It was awesome, an amazing fight.
“To be with Pecco and the boys, and to be able to at least dice with them for a lap or two in the Sprint. The pace in the race was pretty decent, ran out of steam sort of thing towards the end due to a little costly mistake but sort of got to understand what the Ducati power is all about when you’re on the opposite end of it. It can get a little bit frustrating.
“To start off the year like that, with all the changes that we’ve made, it’s been a busy busy off-season. Changing to WP suspension, steel chassis, new engine, new chassis, I mean we’ve been busy. The team’s been flat-out, I’ve been at home like an ant on a farm getting ready for the season. They’ve done a fantastic job, and to be there so early on is awesome. Looking back at it it’s probably one of my most competitive starts to the year ever in MotoGP, and I’ve had all these different changes so hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.
“The race was really interesting on Sunday, just starting to understand how the bike reacts. You do the laps in practice but it’s constantly in and out and doing a slow lap here and there. So to put consistent laps on the tyre and understand how the bike actually works with the tyre, and what area the tyre starts to drop off first.
“I was really surprised at the rear tyre, and the life that it gave me because coming into half-race distance I was giving it a bit of stick to try to hang with Marco. I was thinking ‘is this thing going to drop off the edge of a cliff?’ But it stayed pretty solid, and to be honest, I had a little bit more to give there at the end, but like I say I couldn’t find my way past Alex for long enough. But it was just a massive boost in my confidence, to understand you’ve got that life there and you can actually stretch a little bit more when you need.”
“The soft front I think surprised everybody. I think being able to translate what I did on the Ducati to them KTM, after I think it’s been renowned that all that can run is the hardest thing in the allocation, and to be able to put it in and do 12 laps like that was nice.
“I think everybody all around the world, I don’t know what it is, I think people still think that I got here and lucked my way into this job somehow. I get doubted more than anybody on this grid, and to be able to prove countless people wrong again has been amazing and kind of gives me an extra power. I think the guys, like everybody else, were surprised to see me there and you know, it gives me an awesome sense of accomplishment to be there already and to be able to challenge with these guys and to prove so many people wrong already has been awesome.”
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