Maverick Viñales believes Suzuki's efforts throughout the year are becoming increasingly apparent, as he was quickly in the groove at Motegi, showing toward the front of the MotoGP field once again.
A late, consistent run in FP2 saw the 21-year old rise to third place on the time sheets, his best lap clocking in just 0.097s slower than pace-setter Jorge Lorenzo.
Still, the Catalan feels that further improvements must be made if he plans to stay within the fight for podium positions until the end of Sunday's race.
“I feel very good, today we have worked very hard with the tyres to prepare for the race and the results are positive,” said Viñales. “We still need to work on the rear to find a good set-up that could allow me to save the tyre until the end of the race.
“My team did a very good job, I can feel the improvements we have done throughout the season in being more effective in the adaptation of set-up and electronics between the sessions, our learning and adaptation process is getting faster and faster, allowing me to make big steps.
“For tomorrow we will work to find an even better feeling with the rear, improving acceleration, focusing on the electronics configuration, and then try a good time attack which is a thing we didn't focus on today.”
It was a positive day for Suzuki overall as team-mate Aleix Espargaro rounded out the top six in FP2, a place ahead of Valentino Rossi.
The elder Espargaro brother spent some time working on effective racing lines around the Japanese track, and is confident of upping his pace further on Saturday.
“I'm satisfied with the day as my feeling is good, this is not a track I've felt fast on in the past but today I got a positive outcome. Already in the morning I felt confident and in the afternoon I could improve even more, we are working very hard and this is paying back.
“Also I'm expecting to be even faster tomorrow, today I had to work a lot on the lines as the track had some tricky conditions in some points; it's a learning process that gave me some hints already but still leaves me room for improvement.”