Espargaro could only manage a total of four points from those two races after a formation lap issue at Motegi and a lack of pace in Thailand looked set to hamper his MotoGP title aspirations.

However, the Aprilia rider is still only 20 points off Fabio Quartararo in the MotoGP standings, while his performance on the opening day at Phillip Island suggests the Spaniard is back in the mix.

Despite windy conditions posing a significant challenge to all the riders, so much so that Espargaro called it ‘on the limit’, his pace remained strong as he finished seventh on combined times.

"After two difficult tracks for me I felt really fast again with a normal tyre on a fast track," said Espargaro. "I feel like I can fight at the top again. 

"Track conditions were on the limit because the wind was very high. Also, it was quite cold this morning and for me it was a bit dangerous, sincerly. 

"In two or three places it was damp and it was tricky. It was tricky for the riders to find the compromise between the speed and to not make a mistake because the mistakes here are very expensive."

Speed coming easier than in Thailand for Espargaro

Although Espargaro made a breakthrough in terms of performance during warm-up in Buriram, the Aprilia rider was still not quick enough to realistically challenge for the top five.

But that doesn’t appear to be of concern for Espargaro this weekend: "In Thailand I worked very hard to have the speed - in Japan it was not so bad - but in Thailand I tried everything with two completely different bikes, I insisted so much and in the warm-up we improved a little bit but I was [still] not better than the top ten, top eight. 

"Here, today, I didn’t ride with the hard front because it was a bit cold and I decided to be a bit more patient. 

"With the soft front I suffered a lot. But even so I was quite fast, so hopefully tomorrow with better conditions - it looks like it will be a little bit walmer - then I will be able to use the hard front and make one step [forward]."

Espargaro unsure who the favourite for Sunday’s Australian MotoGP is

While Espargaro was strong on day-one, so was championship leader Quartararo who finished fourth. The two factory Ducatis of Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller weren’t as quick as expected, although both are likely to be contenders come qualifying.

"We have to wait and see," said Espargaro when asked about both his rivals' pace. "Also, the three rear tyres can all be raceable. This will also make a difference. 

"My pace is strong, Fabio's pace is not better than mine, Pecco is also not in his best circuit for the moment, Jack neither, but everything can change tomorrow." 

Espargaro, who came close to colliding with a wallaby during FP1, has not beaten Quartararo and Bagnaia in the same race since Le Mans, which is a stat he’ll be looking to change this weekend.