The good news for Valentino Rossi
was that he lapped just 0.2s behind Yamaha team-mate and reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo
after day one at the inaugural MotoGP at Austin, Texas.
The bad news was that Honda riders filled the top three positions, with flying rookie Marc Marquez 1.837s ahead of Rossi.
Marquez's Repsol team-mate Dani Pedrosa
was 1.3s quicker than the Italian and LCR's Stefan Bradl 0.65s clear.
Whilst worrying, it wasn't a surprise: Rossi had also been in fifth place, behind Lorenzo and those same three Hondas, during the private March test.
"The practices are not so bad because we improved a lot compared to this morning and we could stay close to Jorge," said Rossi.
"[But] unfortunately today the Hondas are very fast. Big difference. We thought and we hoped to be more close. Especially Marquez is very fast and also Pedrosa and Bradl are faster than us so we have to work to try and recover the disadvantage. We suffer too much with the grip. So it looks like it will be more difficult than in Qatar."
Team manager Massimo Meregalli feels Yamaha has the potential to make a 'big step' on day two, when lap times should start to approach those set at the test.
"We know that the characteristics of this track are not the best for us. We still have one and a half days to work on our set up so we will focus on closing the gap to the front," he said. "Unfortunately this morning the track conditions were not good, we couldn't work properly so we 'lost' one session. We have identified the area we need to improve so I am optimistic that tomorrow we can make a big step."
Rossi finished second on his Yamaha race return at the previous Qatar round, won by Lorenzo, having just held off Marquez.