Aleix Espargaro is eager to put on an impressive show at the Japanese MotoGP as the factory Suzuki team returns to home soil in a race for the first time since returning full-time to the premier class.

The Spaniard made a solid start on Friday as he finished sixth quickest on the GSX-RR, lapping in 1m 45.348s to slot in behind Bradley Smith on the satellite Tech 3 Yamaha.

Espargaro was able to capitalise on some progress made with acceleration and electronics from Aragon and is optimistic he can continue in the same mould over the weekend at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.

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"I'm very happy for this start, the day has been positive for me and I'm proud to be performing so well here in Japan," he said.

"Almost the whole factory is coming to visit us at the circuit and it's very nice to see how hard all the Suzuki people work for and trust in us. It's an important day for the company, being the first race on the home soil after the comeback.

"The performance today was pretty good, finally with my crew we managed to find an effective approach, in Aragon I got some hints on how to be better performing in acceleration, we have analysed the data and finally came here with some good ideas for the electronics which proved to be effective," Espargaro added.

"We found a way, we still need to refine it but the feeling so far is positive."

In contrast, his team-mate and championship rookie Maverick Vinales found the going much tougher and finished day one in 13th position after struggling to find confidence in the set-up of his GSX-RR.

"Honestly I'm not happy, there is something wrong with my feeling with the bike since the last two or three races and I can't understand how to improve," Vinales said.

"My feeling at mid-season was so good, while now it looks like we can't find a proper way to finalise the set-up. Here we've almost lost the Friday, my lap times are far away from where I think I could be and we still need to find a proper way.

"The base-setting is good, I still feel we have a good approach, but we need to work harder to be more effective for tomorrow."