Aleix Espargaro created one of the big talking points as the Sepang MotoGP test commenced today, with the Spanish rider putting the FTR-M1 in a brilliant seventh place.
Last year's runaway CRT leader gave his NGM Mobile Forward Racing team plenty of reason for optimism with a lap in 2m 01.419s leaving him only half a second outside the top three on the 'Open' class Yamaha.
The Spaniard, who focused mainly on electronics and engine controls, only completed 26 laps but did enough to raise expectations ahead of day two of the Sepang test in Malaysia.
“I'm really excited to start this new adventure with the NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team,” he said. “We have a very good package and I aim at fighting with the factory riders. The bike is competitive and we have high expectations.
“Today we worked mainly on electronics and engine controls. I was comfortable on the bike from the morning and I could ride with a good rhythm.
“We did only 26 laps but we collect good data and I'm confident because we are working in the right direction.”
Espargaro finished ahead of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha pair of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro and factory Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.
Team-mate Colin Edwards' progress was stifled by a technical issue that forced him into the garage after three laps, but he was back on track in the afternoon, clocking up 26 laps with a best time of 2m 02.483s leaving him in 11th place.
“Looking at the package, I don't see why we cannot be competitive and teaming up with Aleix gives me an extra motivation,” Edwards said.
“Regarding this first day of testing, all in all it was positive even if I had some technical issues and I could ride only in the afternoon.
“We focused on the chassis to improve the front feeling and tomorrow we will continue working in this direction.”