Despite only a shortened shakedown prior to heading to Jerez for the final MotoGP test of the pre-season, premier-class rookie Michele Pirro and the new Gresini CRT machine emerged 17th out of the 22 riders on day one.
Although 1.6sec off the leading CRT of Aspar Aprilia rider Randy de Puniet, Pirro's pace on the FTR-Honda was less than 0.2sec from the Suter-BMW of Colin Edwards.
“The Imola [shakedown] session was nothing serious so today was really the first outing for this bike,” confirmed Pirro, whose bike features Ten Kate engine and electronics. “We have worked very hard to find where our limits are right now and the biggest issue is with the front end, which is limiting our corner entry speed.
“Having said that we have to be more than satisfied because the bike is only a few hours old and we're measuring up to the rest, apart from de Puniet.
“It was also a bit of a debut for me, with so many new things such as Bridgestone tyres, which I have never ridden before. We can be happy and even though we have a lot of work ahead of us I have great faith in the team and I am sure that with the data we have gathered we can take another step forward.”
Team-mate Alvaro Bautista was seventh fastest on his Honda RC213V.