EVESHAM'S Mike Tustin and Team MTR had a tough time in round four of the Ducati TriOptions Cup at the Snetterton 300 circuit.

He returned after a nine-week break in the competition for his first time at the track and big set-up changes improved handling for qualifying.

But Tustin's pace was still way off where he wanted and the team endured their worst qualifying performance of the season by finishing 26th.

Further gearing changes helped him boost his position to 20th in race one but it was the first non-points score of the season for the team.

Tustin was elevated to 23rd on the grid but was left disappointed with another 20th place from race two which was ended after only seven of the scheduled 10 laps due to an engine blow-up for another machine.

A team spokesman said: "Once again we lacked lots of initial pace from the start and compared to the more established teams were just unable to reach their level in the short amount of track time that is available at the race meetings.

"Unfortunately the next couple of race meetings will be very similar as these are circuits Mike has never been to before.

"Both Mike and the team had already been expecting this part of the season to be a struggle but it still makes the results hard to take as Mike truly believes he has the ability to be much further up the field than he was at Snetterton 300.

"It just proves how hard this championship is to be competitive in.

"On a more positive note Mike was over seven seconds faster in the second race than when he was in free practice therefore showing the team had made significant steps forward throughout the meeting."

Round five of the cup is from Friday until Sunday at Brands Hatch.