Having started the week ring rusty after a lengthy winter break, Johann Zarco showed all of the speed that carried him to two world titles at Sepang on Tuesday, the Frenchman ending the day a fine fifth.
Zarco's fastest lap of 2m 0.343s was less than a tenth of a second off Valentino Rossi's best effort and capped what has been an impressive week thus far for Tech 3 Yamaha, as team-mate Jonas Folger placed ninth.
Interestingly, Zarco put his fine pace down to spending a period on Michelin's wets on Tuesday morning, which allowed him to get a greater grasp of the Yamaha M1's limits.
“I improved a lot because the confidence is coming back,” said the Frenchman. “I have a good feeling on the bike also. It's pretty good and I need to do things step-by-step.
“For sure today, compared to yesterday, was a big step but a good step. I'm still learning. Today at the beginning when the track wasn't so good I went out on the rain tyres.
“It helped me to understand the bike better and to have more feedback. Then when I put on the slick tyres I was more relaxed and able to use the good point of the Yamaha.
“When you have a rain tyre the bike is moving a lot on the brakes. Then when you feel that the bike is moving and you don't crash, this gives you confidence with the slicks.”
Both Zarco and Folger had the chance to test at Sepang during a private Yamaha shakedown in November, but there speed has been somewhat surprising.
While both have shown plenty of ability over one lap, Zarco's main priority is to understand how a 250bhp MotoGP machine acts toward the end of a race run. A race simulation may be in the offing on Wednesday.
“I did a good lap time but the race is 20 laps and I need to find the pace for 20 laps and to be fast, like I was, but spending less energy,” he said.
“I cannot spend this energy for 20 laps so the target is to be fast spending less energy. I'm working on it. I was spending less today and was able to be faster.
“It [a race simulation] would be great. Maybe 15 laps would enough. Let's see tomorrow. If I do it, I think it will be necessary to do it quite early in the day. If we're doing test, test, test at the end of the day your body will not let you do it anymore.”