After an uncomfortable return from ankle surgery last weekend in Japan, Casey Stoner looked a much more formidable force to be reckoned with on day one in Malaysia.
The reigning and soon to retire double MotoGP champion finished fifth at Motegi, after Cal Crutchlow's last lap exit, but concluded the Friday morning session at Sepang a close second quickest - between title contenders Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.
Like many of the frontrunners, Stoner then chose to sit out the wet afternoon session.
"I definitely feel more comfortable here than I did in Japan, I'm not sure if this is time on the bike or the fact that this track isn't quite so demanding on my right leg,” said Stoner, whose best lap of the day was set on his 14th of 15 morning laps.
“The circuit goes to the right a lot, but there aren't so many slow corners that I need to pick the bike up from and I'm getting a better feeling here so the lap times came easier.
“We still have quite a bit of work to do and I don't think we are anywhere near the pace that we need to be, but the first session went very well and hopefully we can continue in this way for the remainder of the weekend.”
Stoner - whose best lap time was 0.152s slower than Repsol Honda team-mate Pedrosa - was two-seconds off his pace-setting lap time during superior conditions in February's Sepang test.