Nicky Hayden was almost two seconds faster than his corresponding best lap in free practice at Sepang in 2011 after switching to a new swingarm.
The Ducati MotoGP rider began testing the swingarm – the same unit used by his team-mate, Valentino Rossi, since Misano – in the morning as he set the eighth fastest time in FP1 in Malaysia.
Hayden, whose best lap of 2m 02.754s was 1.1s down on day one leader Dani Pedrosa, is also feeling more comfortable on the Desmosedici after struggling at Motegi with a wrist injury he sustained at Motorland Aragon.
“With my injury last winter, I didn't really do much meaningful riding here during testing, so it's hard to compare the bike from then to now,” he said.
“The main thing we're working on is finding more edge grip, and we made a couple of improvements there.
“I was almost two seconds faster than last year here during FP1, which is nice. I tried the new swingarm, which definitely gave me better feeling at the rear,” added Hayden.
“Then this afternoon was really strange. As can happen at long circuits, the track was completely wet on one part and completely dry on another, during the same lap.
“I did two laps, just to feel the wet conditions in case that's what we have on Sunday,” he said.
“Anyway, I definitely felt a little better today than I did in Motegi, both with my wrist and on the bike, so hopefully we can have a much better weekend.”