MotoGP rookie Sam Lowes improved his lap time by 1.6s during the opening test of the year at Sepang, allowing the Aprilia rider to finish within two-seconds of fastest man Maverick Vinales.

"It was good. We improved the lap time by quite a big step; we are less than two-seconds from the front and on the first day it had been over three-seconds. We'll keep going in the right direction. Everything is new for me, so I learn something every lap!" Lowes said.

While experienced team-mate Aleix Espargaro focussed on the latest RS-GP developments, Lowes' main task was continue learning MotoGP machinery. A significant step in that process included his first long run, of nearly a full race distance, on the final afternoon.

"The race run was a new experience on a MotoGP bike. Sepang is always a physically and mentally challenging place, so to do it here was quite nice. I was pleased with it," added the multiple Moto2 race winner.

"We didn't go for a lap time at the end of the day because we've had a good three days with no big mistakes or crashes.

"We've just got to keep building from here, but it's going in the right direction. There's still six days of testing until the Qatar race weekend and if we keep working like this and improving we'll be in a good position."

Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano added: "We just asked Sam to get used to the MotoGP bike. We really believe in him and he showed it well in these three days."

Johann Zarco (Tech 3 Yamaha) was the top rookie in eleventh place on the combined Sepang timesheets. Espargaro was 13th, 0.740s from Vinales.

Sam Lowes' - Sepang long run:
1. 2m 04.646
2. 2m 03.676
3. 2m 03.057
4. 2m 03.202
5. 2m 06.614
6. 2m 03.145
7. 2m 02.958
8. 2m 02.845
9. 2m 03.559
10. 2m 02.961
11. 2m 02.723
12. 2m 03.186
13. 2m 03.006
14. 2m 03.679
15. 2m 02.848
16. 2m 02.862
17. 2m 03.090


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