Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista enjoyed his best Friday performance of the season with fifth position at Sepang in Malaysia.
That made the Spaniard the top rookie, as he lapped just 0.614sec behind Valentino Rossi and just under four-tenths quicker than team-mate and former Sepang winner Loris Capirossi (twelfth).
“Álvaro has been consistently improving over the last four Grands Prix and this is his best Friday result by some margin," said team manager Paul Denning. "He knows that qualifying and the first three laps of the race are pivotal to his potential to improve his results and he has come out of the box pushing very hard straight away today.
“Loris is very disappointed to be 12th on day one at a track that he considers to be his favourite of the year; possibly he lost his way a little bit in trying two completely different bike set-ups.
"Clearly on some parts of the circuit he is very quick – fastest in sector one shows that – and his potential best lap is not far away from the best. He is angry – which is always a good sign – and we are looking for a lot more from him as the weekend continues.”