Loris Capirossi made the most of new 'modifications' to his Rizla Suzuki to set the sixth fastest time during Friday's second free practice session at Sepang in Malaysia.
The Italian's best lap, of 2min 3.346sec, put him seventh fastest on combined times and 0.679sec from the front, during a day when light rain briefly interrupted the second session.
"The bike seems to be working quite well and I am quite happy with the way the first day went and the modifications that Suzuki have given us for this weekend seem to be working better. We still need to work on tyre settings and getting the best grip for here but I think we can do a good job on Sunday," said Capirossi.
Regular team-mate Chris Vermeulen clocked a time just over 0.3sec slower to sit eleventh on the leader-board.
"It's good to be back at Sepang as it's a track we know well and Suzuki has supplied us with some new parts that seem to be helping here with that bit of extra power that we were lacking at Phillip Island," confirmed Chris. "We have tried quite a few different settings on the bike and have found a good direction. We haven't done much tyre testing yet so I think there is certainly a bit to come with extra grip out of the bike. Overall I am quite confident and looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
"It has been quite a positive first day's work at Sepang today," stated team manager Paul Denning. "The circuit layout and grip available certainly suits the GSV-R a bit more than the last GP at Phillip Island and that has shown in how close we are to the front-running pace. There is definitely more to come, but I am sure that is the same for all our competitors. We feel that the bike is close enough that with some careful work and correct decisions this evening we can be quite competitive here this weekend."
Capirossi and Vermeulen have been joined at Sepang by team test rider Nobuatsu Aoki. The former full time GP racer was 19th and last in both sessions as he adjusted to grand prix pace, but at least knocked over 1.5sec from his best time between the morning and afternoon sessions.
"First of all I'd like to say thanks to all the guys in the crew, especially after I destroyed a bike in a big crash at the test at Motegi and they've worked hard today and at the factory to prepare a bike for me for this wild-card race," said Aoki, who is due to race test some development parts for the '09 GSV-R.
"Unfortunately we couldn't bring the new engine here, but I have been testing the new exhaust pipe with the silencer and this has worked very well and made a big improvement with bottom end performance. We still need to do some work and improve on the times, but we are confident the work we do this weekend will be good for the grand prix team to use at Valencia.
"As for myself it has been really hard getting up to racing speed and getting comfortable, but it is coming and for sure I will improve more tomorrow and I think I will be competitive by the afternoon," he added.
Aoki would have needed to find 1.7sec to threaten the slowest of the regular grand prix riders on Friday, Kawasaki's John Hopkins.
"For Nobu it has been his first day back in the office at a Grand Prix weekend and I am sure he will be looking to take a decent step forward tomorrow," stated Denning.