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Qatar Moto3 test: McPhee sets personal best Losail lap

John McPhee is off to a flying start for his 2021 season after finishing the first two days of Moto3 testing at the top of the times.

A confident McPhee concluded Saturday’s second day at the Losail Circuit firmly in charge, after securing his fastest ever lap time at the desert track, a 2’05.286, to sit three-tenths clear of second-place-man Dennis Foggia.

Initially riding a jet black Petronas machine in a bid to save the race fairings for the coming consecutive race weekends, the Scotsman set 26 laps throughout Saturday’s two afternoon sessions - having chosen once again not to go out for the opening hour - adding to his 29 lap total from Friday as he re-familiarised himself with his SRT Honda.


Concluding the day in a confident position, McPhee explained:

“Today was a proper test day for us and we made our way through quite a good plan, tested about four different things with the bike, setting-wise, and made the most of the day considering the tricky weather conditions. Obviously that wind out there was strong today and easy to get caught out.

“At the end of the day we went back to basics and pushed for a lap time, which saw us end quickest, in fact it could be my quickest lap around Losail so I was happy with the lap time. I unfortunately only got one because on my second lap I had a small crash at turn two but we know why that was, I picked up some dirt in turn 15 on my fastest lap but I’m completely fine, the bike was fine, so that’s good.

“We found yesterday the bike was working really well, then we went out today with the winds and we struggled to keep the weight on the front of the bike, so we are trying a couple of different things, trying different front forks, some different damping and whatever in there, to see how it’s working. Just understanding what works, in what conditions. We already know we have a great base package that we’ve been fine tuning over the last 12 months. We’re just trying to make sure we have as many tools as possible so throughout the season, we can chuck stuff at it and we know what’s gonna work and what doesn’t.

“It’s been fantastic working with Darryn and I’m really excited for the final day of testing tomorrow. If the wind dies down I think we can put all the pieces of the puzzle together, double check what we’ve found these past two days and finish the test as strongly as possible. If we could find a little bit more information about a couple of things tomorrow that would be great and we’ll have another push at the end to see what our qualifying pace is like. Even if the test ended now, I’m quite happy with that we’ve achieved.”

“It’s so nice to be back here riding again,” the Scotsman said, discussing Friday’s opening progress. “We haven’t done so many laps before coming here this season, but immediately on lap four or lap five I was on the pace and feeling good on the bike so that’s a nice starting point going forward.

“We made the most of sessions two and session three and finished up second overall, we didn’t test so much, just wanted to get back up to speed again which we achieved.

“I’m basically riding a standard bike right now, - when I say standard I mean our standard, our base setting. The target is just to improve the feeling a little bit. We’ve seen that my rhythm is good, I managed to do a handful of laps in the 2’05’s so it shows that it’s not just a one-off lap, we’re able to be consistently there which is great.

“The target is just to improve that feeling a little bit more, ultimately it’s a test so it’s nice to be at the front, but ultimate target is to improve the setting for these next two races.


Elaborating on his new partnership with South African Darryn Binder, McPhee explained “100% it’s great having Darryn, he’s such a good addition to the team. We’ve been working so well together.

“Something I’ve lacked for the last handful of years is having someone that I can work really well with session by session. Me and Darryn get on great, on track and off track, so it’s perfect. It means we can focus on our own rhythm, work together and make our own plan and not need to worry about any other riders. If we’re both up there, both inside that top five, that’s the main thing, whether he’s in front or I’m in front I don’t mind until come Sunday!”

“John’s helping me out so much” Binder confirmed.

“It’s so nice to be able to work with John, a really fast rider and somebody with a lot of experience, that we can work together, it just goes to show, one and two [on Friday] either way around we’re happy, so that’s the goal. Let’s just keep on pushing and I hope we can maintain this throughout the season.”

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