Jorge Lorenzo, who missed one of the three pre-season tests after fracturing his hand in a training accident, caused an upset when he outpaced team-mate and reigning world champion Valentino Rossi in Friday practice for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix.
Riding without any additional hand protection inside his glove, the 22-year-old was back looking comfortable and confident on his factory M1.
After sitting third in the times for most of the one-hour session, a late improvement saw Lorenzo beat Rossi's time by two thousandths of a second, before a mistake at turn 14 sent the Spaniard sliding into the gravel trap.
"I'm quite happy about tonight and about my hand; I tried riding for the first time without the extra hand protection and I was okay,” said Lorenzo, the 2009 title runner-up. “I felt good on the bike and my thumb didn't really hurt, it was a lot better than at the test. We still have a few things on the bike that we need to work on but we have made a good start.
“It was a pity to crash, I was pushing hard at the time and I just made a small mistake, touching the white line; these things happen and luckily I didn't hurt myself. Tomorrow we'll continue our work and try to improve more."
Fastest man Casey Stoner, winner at Qatar for the past three seasons, lapped 0.526sec quicker than Lorenzo.