Toseland’s supporters, and indeed his team, were expecting him to kick on in his second MotoGP season, after he learned the majority of the tracks on the calendar last year, so his early 2009 season results have been a major disappointment with just one top ten finish so far.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider struggled to get on the pace during preseason, with two heavy crashes in Malaysia and Jerez doing nothing to help his cause. The 28 year-old is yet to shine on the 2009 Bridgestone tyres and qualifying is a specific area of concern.
Having started the three 2009 races thus far in 14th (Qatar), 10th (Japan) and 13th (Spain) on the respective grids, his recent QP results contrast starkly with those he achieved at the beginning of his debut season last year - second, eighth and sixth - as he made a strong start in MotoGP.
Toseland rode a modest race at Jerez to finish 13th, unable to progress any further through the field as he never found a comfortable set-up on his YZR-M1 machine. He successfully fended off a persistent challenge from Alex de Angelis, but will be looking to move higher up the order at the forthcoming rounds.
“It was a tough weekend and we have got some issues to sort out,” reflected the former superbike champion. “We’re still trying a few things on the bike and I’m still searching for a comfortable setting over a race distance. I still need a second or so on race pace but I need to sort out qualifying too, because I’m giving myself too much to do by being too far back. You don’t need to be too far off but if you start at the back you stay at the back in a competitive class like this.”
Sitting 14th in the general standings, he added, “It has not been a great start to the season but I don’t feel we’re that far away. We’ve got a lot of information from the Jerez weekend and we’re eliminating things that we know don’t work. I’m confident we’re close to finding the setting I need and working hard with my guys to find it.”
Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal reiterated a similar message, saying of Toseland, “His lap times in the race were not too bad but it is clear he must improve in qualifying. He is capable of a much stronger performance, but it is difficult when you don’t qualify well. The start of the race now is crucial and qualifying is something that he will work on with his crew.”