Friday’s on-track action at Misano confirmed enjoyment had returned to Maverick Viñales’ riding as he ended the first day of MotoGP free practice with the fourth quickest time, leading to to a belief that a podium on Sunday is well within reach.

Such was the 23-year old’s confidence, he stated it was “easy to be consistent” and lap with the fastest the class has to offer. With his current set-up, Viñales is sure the bike is capable of a top three finish.

“It’s the same [Maverick] as one month ago,” he said when it was put to him it appeared as though the Maverick of old had arrived at Misano. “Honestly the bike did an improvement and I can ride my way. It looks easy to be consistent and on the top and that’s something I enjoy a lot.

“This track is really nice. I like it a lot. We need to keep working forward because the track changed quite a lot from the test and the feelings are quite different on the bike. But anyway, we are at the front making really good lap times.”

On Thursday, he spoke of a small electronics adjustment that had brought some crucial feeling back to his game. Pressed on other changes, Viñales also pointed to a small change in bike balance that has allowed him to be more aggressive when braking.

“We especially took out a little bit of weight so we have more room to push the brakes so I don’t go too deep, too soon,” he explained. “I don’t go too deep, too soon. [Instead] I go early and that helps me a lot to stop the bike.”

Not that he was totally satisfied with his own performance. “For sure I need to improve the line,” he said. “I’m not on the perfect line in all the track so I need to improve my riding style, especially in sector one.

“There are things to try: different lines; riding a little bit differently in the sectors that I am not great. So on the bike I feel good like this. Like this the bike is able to be between the top three so there is not so much sense to change the bike.”

His speed on Friday – his 1m 32.411s was just 0.213s off pace setter Andrea Dovizioso’s quickest time – was similar to what he showed at a private test here the week before Silverstone.

Track conditions on Friday were considerably different, with Thursday evening’s substantial downpour washing away much of the grip. Thus Michelin’s tyre allocation was reacting in a different way, a facet he hopes to re-check on Saturday should it remain dry.

“For sure I will try. I didn’t feel good with the medium, as I expected. I will try the hard. I will try combinations with the tyres, and let’s see. What I feel different from the test is that the soft lasted 30 laps perfectly with really good rhythm but here when I exit in FP2 it was already done, the rear tyre. So it was very strange.

“But anyway, it’s the first day and the track conditions are not as good as they were in the test.”