Barros 'hopes to fight for victory' in Qatar.
In ten days' time Alex Barros, a veteran of 251 motorcycle grands prix, will make his World Superbike debut with Klaffi Honda at the Qatar season opener - where, despite the shortest of pre-season preparations, the Brazilian hopes to be battling for race wins.
"What do I expect? For sure I hope to be competitive and to be able to fight for podiums and victories," said Barros, who won seven 500cc/MotoGP races. "Before the Losail round there was only time for some test rides in Sicily. I was happy with the result. The bikes performed well, the team worked hard and everyone is very enthusiastic knowing that they have a real chance to fight for victories and good results. By the way - the livery of the bike is really beautiful - yellow and green."
"During these days before the first race time is really running away," said team principal Klaus Klaffenböck. "We are very busy to prepare the bikes in time, but everyone is very enthusiastic. Although there was only one test before the race, I think Alex is able to fight for victories and good results."
Although Barros will have only the most minimal knowledge of his new Fireblade before Qatar, he can at least call on the experience of taking part in two MotoGPs at the desert circuit - in which he finished fourth and ninth.
"In 2004 (middle pic) we had a good chance to fight for the lead but unfortunately there was contact with Valentino which threw me wide and I ended up going to the dirty side of the track where Nakano had left oil. I slipped and almost fell costing me many positions. Because this happened at the beginning of the race I was able to recover and finish 4th," recalled Alex.
"I think Qatar 2005 was the worst weekend, despite finishing in the top 10 and being able to overtake some riders," he added. "Unfortunately we did not have a good front tyre for the circuit. I never had a good feeling on the bike and did not enjoy myself. I was very slow, I could not fight for top positions and simply had to be happy with what I had, frustrating!"
Meanwhile, WSBK held its first ever Qatar round last year (lower pic), where then Klaffi riders Frankie Chili and Max Neukirchner finished fifth and eighth in race two - after both retired from race one.