Returning former Moto2 world champion Toni Elias, just 16th and 14th at the end of the two previous official tests, broke into the top ten during day one of the final pre-season outing at Jerez.
The Spaniard, who won his title with Gresini Moriwaki, but returns on an Aspar Suter, was tenth fastest and 0.840sec from leader Thomas Luthi (Suter) after the first of the three days.
This week's test is the first to feature official timing and use of the official Moto2 engines. Elias had been 1.4sec from the top at the end of February's first Jerez test.
"The temperatures and track conditions were fabulous at Jerez today,” said the former MotoGP race winner. “This afternoon we took another step forward and it's just like I have said all winter: You have to not waste a second, carry on growing and get used to the bike.
“We are closer to the lead riders with every day of testing, which is very important. We still need to improve on the fast parts of the track, because these are where we are losing time -the slower sections are better for us.
“We will see if we can reach our goals of evolving steadily. We are satisfied in general, although to gain speed on the corners we need a more stable front end. Tomorrow we will continue to look for solutions to our problems in the faster sections."
But it wasn't such a promising start for team-mate and reigning 125cc world champion Nico Terol, who was 26th fastest and nearly two seconds from Luthi.
"To be honest, I would have liked to have started this test a little faster in terms of pace -at least as quick as the last time that we were here,” he admitted. “We'd made a few changes by the halfway point today, but gradually I felt better. I was also riding better on used tyres.
“We were able to steady the bike on this first day, which gave me confidence when I was pushing on the fast corners. This is the way that we should continue tomorrow. We have a different front tyre that we will be using tomorrow as well."