Loris Capirossi gave Suzuki's new GSV-R800 an encouraging maiden outing as testing for the new MotoGP season got underway, the Italian going comfortably quickest in Sepang.
Although most eyes in Malaysia are transfixed on another year of rivalry brewing between reigning champion Valentino Rossi and the man he deposed, Casey Stoner, it was Capirossi who kicked off his 20th season of grand prix racing in style with a best lap time of 2mins 01.869.
Already quicker than the fastest race lap set by Valentino Rossi during the 2008 Malaysian Grand Prix, Capirossi was the only rider to slip beneath the 2mins 02secs benchmark as he edged Stoner by almost two tenths.
With a new engine, chassis and carbon fibre fairing, it was a good first day of action all round for Suzuki, with Capirossi's team-mate Chris Vermeulen coming in fourth quickest, albeit a second down on the Italian.
Splitting the two were 'walking wounded' pair Stoner and Rossi, the former coming back to action following surgery on his wrist in November and the latter riding with stitches in his hands and feet following his home mishap this week.
Stoner on the Ducati was marginally quicker, although Rossi, who was one of a handful of riders to suffer a spill, was the least active rider participating, completing just 31 laps over the course of the day.
Honda's leading representative was Toni Elias on the San Carlo Gresini machine, ahead of the works bike of Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian making a solid start to his career in Repsol colours to go quicker than Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard was eighth fastest, just behind the leading Tech 3 Yamaha of Colin Edwards, the American getting his first taste of the new M1.
MotoGP returnee Sete Gibernau, riding the Onde 2000 Ducati, was a welcome face inside the top ten, the Spaniard no doubt probably surprised to be classified ahead of Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo and Ducati's Nicky Hayden on their works machines.
James Toseland took a hard knock to the head in a 200km/h tumble on the way to the 14th quickest time, behind Alex de Angelis and Mika Kallio, while Randy de Puniet, Yuki Takahashi – whose 73 laps were by far the highest number of the day -, and Niccolo Canepa rounded out those who will race in 2009.
Testing continues on Friday and Saturday.