Tech 3 Yamaha's Bradley Smith is striving to break into the top ten in Texas as he struggles to get to grips with the 'incredibly difficult' Circuit of the Americas.
The 22-year-old MotoGP rookie was 13th fastest in free practice, despite improving his time by four seconds in FP2 on the YZR-M1.
Smith, whose team had to contend with the disruption of a small fire in the Tech 3 garage and the resultant water damage, only began to feel comfortable in the second free practice session as he gained a better understanding of the characteristics of the track on his debut at the circuit.
A slippery surface led to grip issues but Smith believes he can push on and break into the top ten during final practice and qualifying on Saturday.
“It was great to finally be on track today and get a first taste of what is an amazing track but incredibly difficult to learn,” he said.
“After the fire in the garage on Wednesday night my crew and even my old team from Moto2 have been working flat-out to make sure we were ready.
“So just being on track felt like a big achievement today.
“This morning was very difficult because I have never ridden with such little grip, and that doesn't help you learn the track,” added Smith, whose best lap of 2m 09.424s left him behind the CRT machines of Aleix Espargaro and Yonny Hernandez, who were 11th and 12th fastest respectively.
The British rider expects to improve further on Saturday after a positive end to day one in Austin.
“Going into this afternoon where we did have grip, it took me a while to actually adapt to the track.
“We improved the bike and I felt much more comfortable at the end and we have a direction to follow for tomorrow morning,” he said.
“What is critical is being able to put the bike where you want and at the moment I am struggling in that area.
“I know my weak points and I will be ready to make the improvements.”