So here we go again – and my first season as a factory rider.
I can’t believe it was 11 years ago I made my debut in the 125cc Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.
I face the new MotoGP season under no illusions because it’s going to be tough – especially in those first three races in Qatar, Argentina and Texas.
My new Red Bull KTM team also understand what lies ahead and they have done a fantastic job in testing as we prepare for their first season in the toughest motorsport championship in the world.
We know not to worry too much about lap times at this stage of their five-year project.
For me, it’s the lap times at the final grand prix of the year in Valencia in two years’ time when my contract ends that will tell us just what we have achieved.
It’s all about the process and not the results at this point, although a few point-scoring finishes early on would be very gratefully received.
I’ve really enjoyed being so involved in the testing and early development of the bike.
KTM have brought together some really top guys and have the resources to quickly react to changes and ideas that myself and my teammate Pol Espargaro have suggested – there have been plenty.
We’ve completed just 15 days of testing and in that time have used five different chassis and many different configurations.
We are all very upbeat going into the Qatar race on Sunday, but as I said under no illusions.
At the end of the final test in Qatar we were within touching distance of the first 15 riders and would be very satisfied if we came away with some points after those first three races.
KTM started this project 15 months ago and we are coming up against teams that have 15 years of four-stroke MotoGP experience.
We have a lot of catching up to do, but we are well on course.
You only realise how good things were when you don’t have them.
I realise just what a great package Monster Tech 3 Yamaha gave me.
I wanted to move after finishing sixth in the world championship – the leading non-factory rider.
KTM have given me an amazing opportunity to join a brand new factory team with enormous resources and expertise.
It is the only way ahead if I am to improve on sixth place in the 2015 championship.
I’ve worked throughout the winter on the injured knee and it does not affect me in anyway when riding the bike.
Now I’m working to get my general fitness to where it was before the crash in August which is coming back after so much inactivity in the last six months.
The body and mind are ready for what lies ahead.
Eighteen MotoGP races across the world in eight months will test them both to the limit and beyond.
It’s quite a bizarre feeling coming into the new season still testing the bike.
We got a decent base setting for the first race in Qatar after the test but it’s a real step into the unknown in Argentina and Texas.
We will not make too many radical changes until the test in Jerez after the fourth race of the season when we will have more of an idea just where we are.
It’s another big chapter for me in what has been an amazing 11 years.