Jack writes about a race weekend in Argentina where his practice pace paid off with a superb fourth place in Sunday’s second GP of the year.

Hi everyone,

It definitely feels good to be talking to you after a strong weekend from start to finish in Argentina, not just one that went well until Sunday like it did in Qatar. And when you can do a race when your seat doesn’t come off after two laps, that’s always a good thing too …

Fourth is my best result since France last year which was a bloody long time ago, and I was fourth last year here in Argentina too. It feels good and a bit of a relief too after Qatar, we had such good pace there but I left with nothing because of the seat coming loose and the other dramas that followed that.

We’ve been working really hard as a team and the bike is good, and we’ve been doing the most laps of anyone in practice and spending a lot of time working on our race pace, and today it paid off for us. To have it go to plan is nice, and you want to get the monkey off your back and get off zero points, there’s nothing worse than leaving the first race with 0 next to your name. To get so close to the podium – I was only 1.6 seconds behind ‘Dovi’ (Andrea Dovizioso) – is a bit frustrating in some ways, but we’re right there. It’s just a matter of time if we keep working the way we are, I think.

I’m learning a lot with this new bike for me every time I ride it, and I learned in the race today too with how I approached it. I got stuck in a couple of battles that, now I’m looking back at it, I probably didn’t need to get into, and maybe that cost me a chance of a podium. So, you learn from the experiences at the front.

I was the only rider in the front group to be on the medium front tyre, and that was a problem because three laps in I had a warning light come up on the dash that the tyre had got up to 91 degrees, which is off the scale when you look at the temperatures we try to aim for. The track caught us all out I think because the sun was pretty hot and we’d had pretty cloudy weather all weekend, so the track temps were a bit high. I had a few moments because of that, so I focused on saving the rear tyre as best I could. It seems like I had a lot more tyre than some of the guys around me at the end of the race, and I was back in sixth with five laps to go, but felt I had a bit more than (Alex) Rins and (Danilo) Petrucci in front of me. I got Petrucci with three laps left and then Rins on the second-last lap to get to fourth, and I was able to pick them off quite efficiently.

I’m really enjoying riding this GP19 Ducati. I never raced the ’18 last year, and this bike is a big step. I said to someone that I feel like I’m bringing a gun to a gun fight now, and that’s the best way of explaining it. The speed is easier to come by and you don’t feel you’re riding it right on the ragged edge every corner just to get a lap time out. That’s why Qatar was frustrating; with the way ‘Dovi’ rode that race and controlled the pace, I reckon I could have stayed with the front group and been in a position to do something in the last few laps. In the first few laps on this bike is when I notice it, you’re not constantly over-braking and cooking the front tyre just to stay with those guys, and not trying to make up for not being able to stay with them on the straights. I can manage the tyres better because the speed of the bike is there, that’s probably the biggest factor.

Fourth for me was a highlight on Sunday for sure, but I had to get down before the podium of the Moto2 race to congratulate Remy Gardner for coming second, it’s always great to see an Aussie up there. Super cool for him, unreal. He’s been in Moto2 trying hard for a while now, and it’s his first year on a decent bike, and the results are showing. He just missed out in Qatar and then to get second here – and he just about could have won it too – that’s great for him that his hard work is paying off. I think he’s matured a fair bit as well as getting a better bike, and I’m really happy for him.

You guys would have noticed that I did something with the livery on the bike this weekend, with my number 43 looking different. I wanted to pay tribute to the people in Christchurch for the terrible thing that happened there a few weeks ago, my parents and a lot of my family are from New Zealand and it’s a place close to my heart, and it really hit close to home for me. To have that on the bike and get a good result, maybe it brought me a bit of luck. It was an important gesture for me to do, and I’m definitely thinking of the people back there because it’s been such a tough time for everybody.

We’re off to Austin next, once we actually get out of Argentina – it’s quite a big journey to get back to the US from here, and I’ll stay in California and do some training. And try not to injure myself like I did there last year … I’ll do my best to keep myself in one piece this time.

Cheers, Jack

This story originally appeared on redbull.com

Photos courtesy of Alma Pramac Racing