Dani Pedrosa made a strong start to free practice at Sepang in Malaysia after topping FP1 before finishing second quickest overall behind Jorge Lorenzo.
Pedrosa was only 0.047 seconds down on the Movistar Yamaha rider in the afternoon session, when the scorching hot conditions and haze cloud placed huge physical demands on the riders.
The Repsol Honda star, who clinched his first MotoGP victory of the season at Motegi in Japan, figured at the top of the leader board throughout free practice on Friday but refused to get too carried away, pointing out that he will need to raise his game another notch on Saturday.
“A little bit [hard to breathe] but it's also very, very hot today. I expect that with the [haze] the sun wouldn't get that strong and it wouldn't get that hot. But in fact it was really hot," said Pedrosa, who is fifth in the championship standings entering this weekend's penultimate round of the championship – the third consecutive and final fly-away round before the finale at Valencia in Spain on November 8.
"Today was had conditions so I have to prepare really well for Sunday and adapt the best I can. The track is still not at the perfect level but at the same time I think it will get better and better.
"So at the moment no rain, which means the track should be faster tomorrow.”
Pedrosa experimented with a number of changes made by his team based on information gained during the pre-season tests at Sepang and revealed that the hotter temperatures are having a calming effect on the RCV engine.
“I just focused on riding and today testing the bike we normally use here, with the setting, but at the same time testing the things we did change from the test here during the season," he said.
“Tyres, the pace was good but sure need to keep focussed because tomorrow the track will be faster.
“In this track I think the bike is more calm because the hot conditions make the engine more calm, because there is less power," Pedrosa added.
"But at the same time, during riding all the year you learn more about the bike, so now it's more easy to see the critical points of the bike even in this track.”