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Barbera sure he can stay near top

Hector Barbera is confident that he has the race pace to build on his surprise sixth place on the Qatar Grand Prix grid.

The Aspar rider equalled his MotoGP career-best qualifying position at Losail on Saturday night, as he produced a shock by outpacing all the other Ducatis in the field.

Barbera was ecstatic to start his season with such an achievement.

"I am really happy because at the first round of the season I have already equalled my best grid from the whole of last year," he said. "We are pretty close to third place and after a long and hard winter, with all the sacrifices we have to make, it has all been worthwhile."

He had also been sixth in final practice and third on Thursday, though this was put down to getting a tow at the right moment.

However Barbera insisted that he could show consistent pace in race trim.

"We have done well in each session so far but the only one that counts is tomorrow," he acknowledged.

"Our race pace is in the low 1m56s and all being well tomorrow that should see us inside the top eight, which would be a good result.

"I think I have a great bike and we are ready. The only doubt is over tyre choice but we'll probably go for the harder option.

"I guess there'll be a group from fourth place down to ninth and I hope to be in it. We will need to make a strong start and push hard for the first few laps to stay in there."

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