Bradley Smith was back in the limelight again at Motorland Aragon as the Monster Tech 3 rider completed a clean sweep of the top three in FP2 for Yamaha.
Smith, fresh from a superb runner-up finish behind Marc Marquez at the previous round at Misano, was third quickest on Friday behind the factory Movistar Yamaha machines of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
Lorenzo was head and shoulders above the field with a lap in 1m 47.517s to lead Rossi by almost seven tenths, with Smith – seventh in FP1 – a further 0.118s behind as the M1s fitted a new medium rear towards the end of the session.
The 24-year-old completed a 24 laps as he bids to seal a spot on the first two rows of the grid on Sunday for the fifth straight MotoGP race.
“It has been a positive start to the Aragon MotoGP weekend and third is definitely a good position to close day one in,” said Smith.
“As soon as we kicked off proceedings this morning, I felt comfortable on the bike and I was able to quickly find a solid rhythm. Then in the afternoon, we worked more with the hard compound in order to evaluate the potential for the race.
“As a conclusion, the front is positive yet the rear is not quite as strong but it is still working well at this track. Moreover, we made some steps forward with the electronics regarding both the engine braking and the traction control, which I am pleased about,” he added.
“So tomorrow, we will now work a bit more on the race pace and the setting in order to have a good performance for the whole GP on Sunday.
“Also, I would be pleased if we could improve the front stability in some corners, especially when braking on the maximum lean angle.
“Yet, to close the day in third is a good start, so we will carry on our work and hopefully qualify on the front two rows.”
Smith is currently fifth in the MotoGP World Championship standings, 24 points behind Ducati's Andrea Iannone.
His team-mate, Pol Espargaro, was sixth fastest after a lap in 1m 48.445s.
"I really wouldn't say that today has been the best day of the year for me, however considering the huge margin of improvement that we still have to make, a top six finish is a truly satisfying end to the opening day of action at Aragon," said Espargaro.
"This morning when I got on the bike, my feeling was not the best straight away and then again in the second practice session, I struggled quite a lot with changing direction, especially in the fast corners.
"Yet, I remain convinced that we can rectify this situation for tomorrow morning after looking deeply into today's data as our goal is to still qualify on the front two rows of the grid."