Rookie Ben Spies made the most of the level playing field offered by the new Silverstone round of the MotoGP World Championship to set the fifth fastest lap time around the 'super cool' Northamptonshire circuit.
Best known for F1, Silverstone last held a two-wheeled grand prix in 1986 and has been modified for MotoGP's return: The circuit now boasts a challenging 3.667-mile layout that combines classic corners with a new infield section.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, it was the famous section of old asphalt containing the fast first turn (Copse) and then Maggots and Becketts curves that most impressed Spies.
“It is a super fun track with a really cool design,” said the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider. “It is really fast in a lot of places and I really like the fast right and left combination where they are building the new pits and paddock. And coming out of the first corner you are really picking up a lot of speed before that twisty part and it is all about finding the limit, learning how deep you can run it in.
“It was a decent session though it took me a while to get going. With everybody shooting in the dark in terms of set-up, we were missing a little bit in places with the gearbox setting but overall I'm happy. I think everybody will improve quite a bit tomorrow and I know I can be much faster.
“I tried a completely different set-up to Mugello and that has helped in a couple of places and towards the end I was getting more comfortable with it. We can improve the bike, particularly with the gearbox, so I'm looking forward to tomorrow now we've got some experience and information on the track."
The next best rookie was Aleix Espargaro in eighth, while Spies' team-mate Colin Edwards could only manage 12th. Edwards enjoyed himself just as much as Spies and wasn't too concerned by his position.
“The track is absolutely awesome and hats off to Silverstone because they did a fantastic job,” he said. “The first corner is cool and then you're flat-out going all the way to the twisty section and you really need to be brave at that point. It is so fast and reminds me of Phillip Island where you can really push the bike to the limit of its performance and the whole lap is just fast, flowing and really challenging.
“It's just a lot of fun and they've done a great job. You're going so fast that it takes time to get your brain in gear so you can work out how to go faster. I know there were some concerns about bumps. There are some out there but definitely no more than any other track.
“I'm only 12th which isn't fantastic but I know there is a lot more to come. The bike at the moment just feels a bit heavy and not just in the change of direction. It is a bit of an effort just to get the bike back upright from maximum lean angle, but we know we can make it better for tomorrow and get it feeling easier."