After a tough debut test at Sepang last month, the new Avintia Racing MotoGP team began clawing back what had been an 8.6sec per lap deficit to the front of the field during this week's Malaysian return.
After missing Sepang I, Yonny Hernandez returned alongside fellow premier-class rookie Ivan Silva at the controls of the team's Kawasaki-powered BQR-FTR machines.
Avintia avoided a repeat of the debilitating engine problems at the first test and the pair were able to notch up over 200 laps, despite rain interruptions on two of the three days.
The improved reliability, combined with performance progress - most notably in the electronics - helped reduce the previous gap to Honda's Casey Stoner to 6.2sec (Hernandez) and 6.3sec (Silva).
However Forward Racing's Colin Edwards, the only other CRT competitor' at Sepang, set a best lap just under three-seconds quicker than the Avintia riders on his Suter BMW.
Colombian Hernandez, who has been facing funding problems, was first and foremost pleased to be back: “I am happy because I am in contact with the team and the bike again. I have learnt how to work with the traction control and the set-up has been improved.
“Unfortunately the rain and a few electrical issues were detrimental to my pace of work, but fortunately the final day was very productive and we managed to ride enough so we could go ahead with the set-up.
“The training practices prior to the first GP will be crucial to 'polish up' the last details and get the best out of the bike.”
Spaniard Silva lapped 1.5sec under his best time at the first Sepang test.
“We have been mainly working with the engine plans and the traction control,” he examined. “It's a real pity that the rain on the first days prevented us from working as much as we had planned to but that was the case for every team.