Aleix Espargaro, making his MotoGP debut this weekend in place of Mika Kallio at Pramac Ducati, turned heads by finishing his first hour on a Desmosedici in a commendable 15th place.
That put the 20-year-old Spaniard ahead of both Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) and regular Pramac rider Niccolo Canepa at the end of a wet Friday practice session at Indianapolis.
"Last night I think I woke up about one hundred times, I was so excited. Now I am a bit more relaxed,” said Espargaro, whose best grand prix finish is fourth in the 250cc class.
“It has been a fantastic experience. It would have probably been better for my first time on the Ducati Desmosedici GP9 to be with a dry track, but at the end things went well. I found my self at ease from the first laps.
“It has an impressive acceleration but tomorrow, when the track should be dry, I would have a clearer idea of what this bike can do. I am very happy to have this opportunity and I will do all I can to obtain the best result possible,” he added.
Having tested at Indy last year, Canepa had high hopes heading into the weekend, but beating Espargaro must be his first target.
“Due to the limited number of tyres we have at our disposal, I preferred to use only one set of wet tyre today so that I would have more in case I would need them when it really counts. The left side of the rear tyre got worst and I couldn't manage to improve,” said the Italian rookie, who was over two seconds slower than Espargaro and nearly seven seconds behind than practice pace setter Dani Pedrosa.
“Tomorrow I will surely be able to do better: this will be for me a really important race,” he admitted.
Kallio was eleventh fastest.