Jack Miller rediscovered the spring in his step on the first day of MotoGP free practice in Argentina as he ended the day in an impressive fourth place.
According to the Australian, he was 'having a ball' on a bike that was largely unchanged from the one which took him to 14th position at Qatar in the first race of 2016.
However, a lack of grip which encourages rear wheel steering – something both Miller and the current RC213V are happy to do – around the dirty 2.9-mile track also negated some of the machine's serious deficits; namely front-end stability.
“I'm happy with that, that's for sure,” said Miller. “I don't know what it is here. The Honda's seem to be working pretty well here. The bike, I'm happy with it. All the problems we have normally – not having any stability on the front tyre – have gone away.
“The Honda is a bike that you have to turn with the rear tyre so that's also helping us here.
“I think it's just the nature of the track. We haven't really done all that much to be honest between Qatar and now. I don't know about the other guys but we haven't really touched too much. I'm really happy with today. I'm having a ball. It's the first time in a long time that I've had a lot of fun riding the bike.”
Miller's improved feel was typified by pictures of him sliding the rear wheel through Friday morning's FP1, something that brought 'a smile ear-to-ear' on the Australian's face.
“I don't know if you guys saw the images this morning of going sideways through the corner, I had a smile ear-to-ear and a happy look in both eyes.”
On consistency and tyre selection, he added, “Consistency was really good and I already did the race distance on the harder tyre this morning and then the first exit in the afternoon. We were still going really fast. That's what I mean. The biggest thing we really seemed to improve here was our consistency. The same line every lap which has been one of our biggest failings.
“I tried the soft [tyre] at the end of the second session. When I put it on it just seemed to push the front too much and I wasn't too happy with it. The hard is lasting, it has good grip, and I didn't seem to gain anything out of the soft.
“The only close call I had was when I nearly ran into the back of Valentino Rossi at turn eight. He braked a little later and I thought I had more stopping power and we touched a little. I thought I might clean him out, but luckily it didn't happen!”
Between round one at Qatar and the trip to Argentina, Miller was encouraged to go walking in the hills of Andorra to aid with the recovery of movement he had lost when he broke his leg in a preseason accident.
Yet the idea so nearly went wrong, as Miller got lost in the mountains for five hours, with snow on the ground, something he doesn't plan to repeat in the future.
“We nearly died! It wasn't cold they said. We sort of got lost in the mountains in Andorra. We weren't planning on five hours up there. There was snow up to our nipples! It wasn't the most fun but it was good training, for the foot.”
“[The] Leg is feeling better and better every time I get on the bike, that's for sure. I've been training and stretching and working with it every day of the last week between Qatar and here. I'm feeling good. I'm about to pop back down to the Clinica to get more work on it. I'm feeling much better, step-by-step.”