MotoGP rookie Jonas Folger has caught the eye during pre-season testing and on Thursday the young German prospect stepped up again after attacking Phillip Island's 'big balls' corners.
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Folger, who made the switch to the satellite team from the Moto2 class, was seventh fastest in Australia and the second quickest Yamaha overall behind pacesetter Maverick Vinales on the full factory M1.
The 23-year-old's best lap of 1m 23.664s was only eight tenths down on Vinales' effort and Folger his confidence had soared after he tackled key corners on the spectacular Phillip Island circuit head on.
“Always when you make a quick lap it is surprising you and then you try to do it again and it's getting harder, but anyway the pace was really good today and if conditions are good tomorrow, we can make the next step also from the lap time,” he said.
“I'm very happy, especially because we struggled a lot in the beginning of the day. It was very hard for me in many corners where you need big balls, so it was hard for me to make the next big step but once I made it and kept the confidence, we made a big improvement on our pace.
“Also we tried different front tyres for Michelin and another thing was we tried a different position on the bike, a different seat, which we were trying a long time in the afternoon. At the end of the day we went back to the old bike and I was much faster again so it was good to understand and sort out some things. We will concentrate tomorrow on the small details,” Folger added.
“Yesterday especially, and today I wanted to continue where I stopped yesterday. I didn't expect today to make a 1'29.6, so I'm quite happy with the time and also the pace was good on used tyres.”
Folger's seamless transition to the premier class so far has been impressive and he feels the characteristics of the MotoGP machine and the electronics have enabled him to hit the ground running.
“It's hard to say but the GP bike and electronics can help me in many ways; you don't have a lot of electronics in Moto2, so every problem I have, I can solve myself 50 per-cent and also the mechanics can help me with the other half because they have so many details and see so many things that I do on the bike, so they can tell me also any mistakes that I make and I can change my riding also,” he said.
“They can analyse very quickly if I ride smooth or aggressive, or if I lean too much or too little. They know more or less which is the perfect way to ride the Yamaha so every time I am out of this area they tell me and I try to adapt.”
Folger tried the harder front Michelin tyre on Thursday and said he had ticked another box after running the soft compound on the opening day.
“Yesterday I was riding only on the soft front all day because somehow I don't get the feeling from the harder front, but today the big goal was to use the hard tyre because everybody was taking profit of it, so this was another step that we made today.
“Tomorrow, race simulation and we have to try rear tyres from Michelin and once we have done that we will go on the race simulation.”