Suzuki’s winter of promise continued apace in Qatar as Andrea Iannone ended the first day of MotoGP testing with the third fastest time, claiming the front-end issues he encountered in Malaysia and Thailand were nowhere to be seen in the stifling desert heat.

A former podium man at this track, Iannone was delighted to exit pit lane on Thursday afternoon and feel comfortable aboard Suzuki’s GSX-RR “from the first lap”. He would go on to finish the day 0.054s off pace setter Maverick Viñales.

“The feeling with the bike is really good, especially with the front,” said Iannone. "From the first test this year, I struggled a lot with the front feeling in Sepang and Thailand. Now, today I have already a good feeling and it's possible to push really hard

“The bike is turning very well, and at the end, I'm very happy. We worked very well. We tried something but at the end we compared and we didn't get a big step. But anyway we have other [reasons to be happy] today, and for sure we will try to prepare the race for the test.

“For sure it's very important to improve the feeling with the bike in general. We have some difficulties in some areas, especially on the change of direction with the brake, and for sure we focus a lot in this area.

“It's a very good situation for us, especially because for the first two tests, I struggled a lot with the front, and I didn't have feeling to brake very well, to turn very well, and at the end, I didn't ride very fast.

“But here, from the beginning, the feeling with the bike was very good and with the team we worked very well during this day. And at the end, I'm very happy.”

After a strong end to 2017, Suzuki has continued to make incremental changes over the winter months. Iannone went on to say there was no major change that led to his Thursday speed. Rather added experience and small steps have pushed him toward the front.

“Why many changes?” he pondered. “The bike is the same, the rider is the same, the team is the same, no, not many changes. I think more or less everything is very similar, the package, the team, the riders, everything.

“In general, we have one more year of experience, and this is very important, but in any case, I think the most important thing is we arrived here and from the first lap, the feeling with the bike was very good.

“More or less the bike improved a little bit compared to last year, but it's very close. In general it won't change a lot. Suzuki worked very hard, and we have some new things, but in any case, it's difficult to use from the beginning, because we need time to understand it well and to improve.”

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