Ducati's Nicky Hayden
found 'a few positives' as he chipped half a second away from the leading lap time at Tuesday's Sepang test return.
Hayden had finished the first Malaysian test as the leading Desmosedici rider, but two-seconds from Honda's Dani Pedrosa.
That became 1.5s during a rain-shortened start to the second test, with the American - like new team-mate Andrea Dovizioso
- finding weight distribution changes to his liking.
“A few little positives came out of today. We know the gap to the front is still too big, but we're chipping away at it and I would say we are more positive than at the end of the last test,” said the 2006 world champion.
“We'll see what happens over the next two days. If we can get the gap down to one-second it sure would be nice”.
Hayden explained that the alternative weight distribution placed mass further back on the bike, which allowed him to “slow the bike down more with the same brake pressure” and also made it more nimble.
“We still need to adjust it, because now it's a little bit light at the front,” he added.
Dovizioso, who finished one place higher than Hayden on the Tuesday timesheets, felt that turning is where the Desmosedici loses most of its time.
However for Hayden, high-speed 'harshness' is a greater concern.
“I'm pretty used to the turning issue. I would say I have a bigger problem with the bumps,” said Hayden. “It's really harsh for me over the bumps, especially in the faster corners which are what makes the difference in the lap times.
“Turns 5, 6, 11, 12, 13. I really have a big time with the harshness there. Chatter front and rear. I think everyone has it to some extent, but I have it a lot. And I'm not real happy with my edge grip, I'd like a bit more edge grip and traction.”
Something Hayden was happy about was seeing Ducati test rider Michele Pirro out on track with the 'laboratory' bike.
“I don't know all the details, but it's an Evo bike, quite a bit different,” said Hayden.
“It's encouraging to have Pirro here. It's nice to see that effort being put in. It's one thing to go to Jerez
or somewhere in private, but to come here and really know what you're up against with the lap times is good.”
Asked if he might try Pirro's test bike, Hayden replied: “At the moment no, that hasn't been discussed.”
One thing that has been discussed - and ruled out - is any chance of Ducati joining Honda and Yamaha at a private Austin test next month.
That leaves Hayden to make the most of the five days of official testing that remain - with a bike he expects to start the new season with, in Qatar, on April 7.
“I'd say this is the bike for Qatar,” commented Hayden, ruling out radical changes before the opening round. “I hope we make some steps by then, that we're not 1.5-2s off at Qatar, but the actual race bike I believe [will be this one].”