MotoGP rookie Andrea Iannone made a solid start to the year by lapping a respectable distance from the factory Ducatis during the Sepang test.
The eight-time Moto2 race winner, moving up to the premier-class alongside Ben Spies at Pramac Ducati, initially found the Malaysian circuit tough to adapt to on the 1000cc GP13.
However the 23-year-old Italian then got into his stride, knocking 1.3s off his best lap time on day two, then found a further 0.3s on day three.
Iannone ended the test 14th out of 28 on combined times, a fraction ahead of injured team-mate Spies - who missed the third day - and with factory riders Andrea Dovizioso
(+0.587s) and Nicky Hayden
(+0.754s) not far ahead.
“I am happy because this is the first time I have been here with the MotoGP
Ducati and the first day here had been quite difficult to learn the circuit with this bike,” said Iannone at Sepang.
“I didn't have a good feeling at first but we worked hard and were nearly 1.5s better on day two. This is important because there is not much time available for testing before the season.”
Iannone insisted he does not feel under pressure, but wants to stay within touch of the three more experienced GP13 riders.
“I don't have pressure and my main focus is on understanding the bike and electronics,” he said. “My focus is also to keep the distance not too big to Nicky, Dovi and Ben. They have many years of experience in MotoGP. So I am happy this was possible.
“I've made many changes to the bike, five or six different solutions, and one setting I prefer to the others. The setting was fast for me - not fast like Pedrosa and Lorenzo! - but we are getting better.”
Ducati finished the opening 2013 pre-season test lacking around two-seconds to the pace-setting Honda and Yamahas riders.
“The bike for me now is ok, I think the first problem is me because I don't have experience!” said Iannone. “The bike is strong and not easy, but I expected that compared to the Moto2.
“I now want to understand the electronics better, because it is very complicated.”
Physically, Iannone is in far from perfect shape having discovered a back injury dating back to an accident during September's Misano round - an event he won.
“I have a little problem [with my lower back] but I wanted to ride here,” confirmed Iannone.
“In Misano this year I had an accident. I only discovered the injury one month ago after some special tests.
“Physiotherapy doesn't help, the back is compressed, it just needs time. On the bike is it ok but now [sitting up straight] it hurts.”
Iannone will be back on his Energy T.I. backed Ducati during the second Sepang test from February 26-28.