Pol Espargaro said the fun factor had returned as he began the weekend promisingly at Valencia in Spain, ending free practice on Friday fourth fastest.

Espargaro finished half-a-second down on pacesetter Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) after setting his best time in 1m 31.000s in FP2, concluding day one as the top independent rider.

"Today was a very promising start to the weekend and I'm happy as well as satisfied. It's been a long time since I have enjoyed riding my Yamaha this much, so it's a shame that we had to wait until the last race to do so," said the Monster Tech 3 rider.

"With regards to the tyres, Michelin went back to the old carcass that they used at the beginning of the season and these tyres have a lot of rear grip. At this track, we can use it with a different compound and the truth is that we have improved our grip level a lot and the whole bike is working really well.

"Moreover, this circuit suits my riding style and Yamaha has always been strong here," he added. "Therefore it has been a very good first day with many positives and now we will try to continue our progression tomorrow in order to produce a great showing in qualifying for what will be my last race with Tech 3."

Meanwhile, team-mate Bradley Smith was languishing in 19th place after the British rider was hit by a bout of food poisoning. Smith is having his final ride for the Tech 3 team ahead of his move to KTM for 2017, when he will be joined in the line-up by current team-mate Espargaro.