Seven time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi finished his first test on the all-new Ducati GP12 in fifth place and 1.2sec from the top at Sepang on Thursday.
That meant the Italian slipped outside his goal of staying within one-second of the leading time, which he had achieved over the first two days.
But the figures were distorted somewhat by Honda's reigning double world champion Casey Stoner pulling 0.6sec clear of the field with a stunning 1min 59.607sec unofficial Sepang lap record on the final morning.
“At the end the result is positive. We have a good base to work from,” said Rossi. “Fifth is nothing special, but we are closer - except to Stoner. The other guys are not so far. This is very good.”
Rossi's lap time improved from 2min 2.392sec to 2min 0.824sec over the three days, which meant he kept pace with the rate of improvement by Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, who finished the test in second place.
“We were 0.7sec behind Lorenzo on the first day and on the last day we were also 0.7sec from Lorenzo. So when we modify the bike we improve.
“I'm happy, especially because we still have two or three problems to fix. Now we have to see if and when we can fix them. I hope as soon as possible!
“Last year was quite frustrating, because we worked a lot and didn't fix anything. Now we work for three days and we improved. It is more normal and very positive.”
The biggest obstacle Rossi faced during his debut Ducati season was a lack of front-end feel, which persisted despite several major technical revisions.