Alex de Angelis completed his first MotoGP laps since last year's Valencia season finale during Friday practice at the Sachsenring in Germany.
Promoted back up from Moto2 as a temporary replacement for the injured Hiroshi Aoyama at Interwetten Honda, the Sammarinese finished his first hour on an Ohlins RCV 17th and last.
However, he was only 1.58sec from fastest man Dani Pedrosa and a slight 0.081sec from beating 16th placed Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki).
"I am really happy, as I am not far away from the other riders," said the former Honda Gresini MotoGP rider, second at Indianapolis 2009. "If we adapt the bike a little bit better to my quite aggressive riding style I think I can get even closer to the others. We have a lot of work to do tomorrow, but I am confident to improve further."
"I am quite satisfied with the result," declared team manager Daniel Epp. "Alex is getting faster each time and we only miss 1.5 seconds to the top. Many changes were made on the bike to adapt it to his riding style. The team did a good job in the right direction. For the first free practice this really is a good result."