Valentino Rossi has said he feels Maverick Vi?ales will be a future winner in the MotoGP class after the Spaniard set the third fastest time on Friday afternoon.

A winner here in 2014, Vi?ales showed real pace in both race and qualifying trim as he put a handful of disappointing weekends behind him in fine style on the first day of free practice at Phillip Island.

The performance led Rossi to comment on the 20-year old's potential, which he feels is "great", after several impressive performances in Suzuki's return to the class.

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"Maverick has a great potential," said Rossi. "When you follow him on the track he rides very well. For me, he has the potential to become very strong. You know it's his first season so it's always difficult - with the Suzuki, that is coming back after a long time - but for me Vinales in the future will be one that can win."

Although the Spaniard used a soft rear tyre to set his fastest time of the day - a factor all 'Factory' riders feel is crucial considering the abrasive track surface - Vi?ales was able to lap in the low 1m 30s on used rubber.

Speaking after the session in which his fastest time was just 0.135s off Marquez's best, Vi?ales feels changes made to his GSX-RR in Japan have carried through to Australia.

"I feel really good. I feel motivated because the team is working much better than other races," commented the 2013 Moto3 world champion. "Also I feel great with the bike here. I could push 100 percent. There were a lot of races that I feel like I couldn't push. In Montmel? and in Brno were the only tracks I could do my best. It's only Friday so we need to continue working hard.

"The work that we were doing in Japan we put it here in this track. We make a big step in Japan and already here we did another big step. Here is also good for our bike. It's round corners [where] we can push a lot. I think we did a good job.

"It [the rhythm] looks really good. That's why I'm surprised. It looks really good. Even with 15 laps in the tyre I could make 1m 30 low, really good like the others."

When looking closely at sector times, Vi?ales was fastest through the daunting first split, a ribbon of tarmac that includes the breath-taking Doohan Corner and the Southern Loop, a corner that requires the smooth, skilled application of throttle.

Asked whether this was because Vi?ales was braver than his competitors, the Catalan smiled and instead credited the bike's usability in such curves.

"The bike is really good there. It has round corners. We arrive in two really tight corners that are difficult but I feel great with the bike. We still need to improve, adjust the suspension, a little bit electronics and also my riding style can improve."

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good to see Vinales getting praise .he needs great rider future winner