Carl Fogarty is hoping to use the first round of the Superbike World Championship season at the Losail circuit in Qatar this weekend as a building block for his new-look Foggy PETRONAS Racing team.
Australian pair Steve Martin and Garry McCoy's first competitive action on the PETRONAS FP1 starts tomorrow, with the two races taking place at the 5.4km circuit on Saturday.
Both riders used two days of official testing at Losail, a new venue for the 2005 calendar situated in the desert outside the country's capitol, Doha, to re-acquaint themselves with the FP1 and work on basic settings.
With the major manufacturers flocking back to the championship, competition will be fierce and four-times World Superbike champion Foggy has realistic expectations for his riders at the opening round.
Carl said: "From the indications of last weekend's test, we are struggling with the speed of the bike at this circuit. But there is obviously a bit more to come as neither rider has had much time on our bike yet, and you never know what will happen in race situations. So I am hoping for both riders to finish both races in the points so that we have something to build on for the next two circuits that we know well. There are a lot of fast bikes on the grid this year and at the end of three rounds we will have some idea of how far we are off them."
The team has been focused during the winter on improving the existing package before the next stage of engine development becomes available for the Monza race. Areas of improvement include camshaft design, work on the fuel mapping and throttle connection, air intake flow and weight reduction measures.
Steve said: "I am looking forward to getting back on the bike tomorrow. I feel refreshed from the test and have come up with some new ideas, as you always do during a break. I definitely know I can go faster than I did at the test, which should put me a bit closer to the front. Having said that, this track is a hard one for our team. But as long as we make some progress, I will be happy to come away with some points."
Garry said: "I think what we achieved in the two days of testing here was quite remarkable, considering the fact that it was effectively my first test on the bike. I am confident we are going in the right direction and I'm feeling pretty comfortable on the bike. There are still things that we know need to be improved and this weekend is going to be tough, so I will be happy to finish both races and score points here."