Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso featured right at the top of the time sheets as the Italian rider began the first MotoGP test of 2015 on a high with a revised GP14.3 at Sepang.

Dovizioso and team-mate Andrea Iannone will have to wait until the second Sepang test later in February to get their hands on Ducati's new GP15 machine, but Dovi made the most of what he's got in the here and now in Malaysia, setting an impressive time of 2m 00.617s to take the fourth fastest time behind the factory Honda of Marc Marquez and the Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

"I'm happy about today because fortunately the track was in a really good condition, so we were able to try some stuff and start in the right way to test what we want," said Dovizioso.

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"We tried some set-up with the chassis and electronics and from the beginning I had a good pace and a good feeling. We just improved a little bit with the electronics and got some information for the track about the set-up of the chassis.

"Our speed is really good compared to that of our competitors. The base of the bike is the same [from the bike used at the Valencia test in November], we are just able to make some change with set-up, chassis and electronics," he added.

"[The difference] is very small because the bike is the same as last year; we had some updates after last season but it is a small step. At the end of last season we were really competitive but we were not fast for all the distance of the race. I'm not surprised with the speed of today with the new tyre and used tyre."

Asked whether the performance of the GP14.3 has given him even more confidence in the potential of the GP15, Dovizioso said: "Of course, this is our target. The bike will be really different and the work for the next step will be different. We have to work like we did last year and that is why we improved.

"I'm happy with how close we are compared to the Honda and Yamaha, with used tyres we made the same time as Marquez on two laps. I saw where he is faster and more competitive but we are very close, but still not [competitive] enough for the full race.

"It's positive to be in this condition because after thee months you start from zero. To start with three days testing before the new bike [arrives] is positive. With the electronics we are always working to improve traction control, engine braking, everything. The new bike will be soon ready and all the things we have now will be important with the new bike."

Dovizoso's team-mate, Iannone, was seventh fastest with a time of 2m 01.424s ahead of Forward Racing's Stefan Bradl.