Shinya Nakano and Aprilia hinted at their World Superbike potential during testing at Valencia this week as they set an encouraging pace with the new RSV-4.
Nakano, who will race alongside Max Biaggi in the series next year, was out on the bike for the first time as he looks to acclimatise to larger capacity, but heavier, machinery before the start of the new season.
Despite having just two days on the machine though, which is still in the early stages of development, Nakano produced a best lap of 1min 35.3secs.
That is already just three tenths down on the Valencia race lap record, held by Neil Hodgson from back in 2003, although Max Neukirchner remains comfortably the quickest rider to have graced the circuit with his 1min 33.805secs Superpole lap in 2008.
Nonetheless, Nakano insists lap times weren't his priority as he makes the substantial step from a Gresini Honda MotoGP bike to the Aprilia Superbike, the Japanese rider stating that he is pleased with the first impressions with the team as a whole.
"Here it was my aim to establish a good feeling with the bike" he said. "At the start it was difficult because the RSV4 has different characteristics to a MotoGP bike. We managed to get the right set-up after doing a lot of laps and I felt a lot better on the bike, so I was starting to enjoy it more.
“For the moment we have been searching for a good base set-up and we have managed to find it. There's still a lot of work to do in particular with the electronics and the engine braking but we've still got plenty of time to sort things out.
“I am very pleased with these two days of testing, the level of the engineers is really very high and I've already established an excellent feeling with my team, I'm sure we're going to work well together.”
Joined in the test by 250GP Champion Marco Simoncelli and test rider Alex Hofmann, Nakano was comfortably the quickest of the three.
Still, Simoncelli's effort of 1min 36.3secs comes after his first outing on the bike, while Hofmann, who was a further second slower, was back on the bike for the first time in four months following an injury.