On the one hand, fourth position during Friday free practice at Brno marked an excellent performance for Shinya Nakano on his factory Honda debut - on the other hand, rookie Honda Gresini team-mate Alex de Angelis was only 0.036secs slower with his satellite machine.
Nakano, who has been given a factory spec RCV to help develop Honda's 2009 satellite bike, was third fastest at the end of his very first session on the 'Pedrosa-spec' machine, before losing out on 'best of the rest' behind Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi to Suzuki's Loris Capirossi at the end of the afternoon hour.
"I'm happy with both free practice sessions today - this morning everything was new for me so I just focused on getting to know the bike, getting used to riding it and then in the afternoon the feeling improved a lot," said the Japanese, who finished the day as the top Honda rider, 0.997secs from Stoner. "Without knowing whether it will rain or stay dry tomorrow, we tried a lot of different solutions, changed the balance of the bike and fitted a variety of different tyres."
Nakano added that there were numerous differences between his new (Bridgestone-shod) machine, with which Pedrosa has taken two race wins this season on Michelin tyres, and the satellite bike he rode to a best race finish of ninth.
"I obviously found the new bike to be an improvement in a variety of areas - the engine is more powerful and responds better in acceleration and top speed," said Nakano. "The feeling with the chassis is better as well so overall I'm happy with the new bike. We still have a lot of work to do because we have only had today to gather data."
"It has been a positive day and I can say that Shinya has started out really well with the new bike," declared team manager Fausto Gresini. "He is very happy with it and with this being only the first day he still needs more time to get used to it. Obviously we will keep working to make more improvements and there is certainly margin for that."
Meanwhile, fifth place for de Angelis made him both the top rookie and top satellite (bike) rider, despite an accident.
"Despite the crash today I'm happy with my performance, especially in second practice," said the San Marinese. "This afternoon we went with the tyres that give me the best feeling and I managed to ride fast for the entire session. Despite this we still have a lot of hard work to get through because the surface is new and we need to gather plenty of data to help us improve further."
"Alex did well today and despite the crash he was fast all afternoon, once again showing his great potential," added Gresini.