Cal Crutchlow finished day one of the inaugural MotoGP of the Americas as the fastest rider without any prior experience of the Austin, Texas venue.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider completed the pair of free practice sessions in sixth place, beaten only by the five riders who had attended a private test at the new circuit in March.
Crutchlow improved by over four-seconds relative to his first sesion time. His best Friday lacked 1.8s to Honda's Marc Marquez - but was just 0.26s from the top Yamaha of world champion Jorge Lorenzo, in fourth.
Lorenzo's team-mate and seven time champion Valentino Rossi
only got the better of Crutchlow on his very final lap, taking fifth from the Englishman by a mere 0.03s. The achievement was all the more impressive given the disruption and water damage caused by a small fire in the Tech 3 garage.
“Firstly I want to say a huge thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew, management and staff at Yamaha and Dorna and COTA officials for helping us get out on track today,” said Crutchlow. “The fire in the garage on Wednesday night wasn't the ideal start to the weekend but my crew have worked non-stop to get everything ready for today and I am proud to work with them.
“Today was always going to be difficult because this track is really technical, difficult to learn, and you need time to be able to learn all the secrets to go fast. So to be sixth fastest and make such big progress is pleasing. We expected the gap to the front to be quite big and honestly I thought I'd be a little bit further away. I got held up a few times on my good laps too so I'm sure I could have gone a bit faster.
“This track is amazing with so many different challenges from hard braking, fast straights and lots of changes of direction. We still have a lot of work to do and it will be difficult to be near the front in the race. I need to improve in the braking area.
“We need to calm the bike down but to be the best of those that didn't test here is all I can really ask for.”
Rookie team-mate Bradley Smith was 13th quickest.