Johann Zarco made a strong start to free practice at the Japanese MotoGP on Friday as the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider hailed a ‘good day’ in the Far East.

Zarco went third fastest in FP1 in the dry with a best time of 1m 45.483s, which was 0.125s back on Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.

In a damp FP2 in the afternoon, Zarco was fifth quickest on the M1 and felt relaxed on the bike.

“It has been a very good first day in Japan, I’m happy. In the dry conditions, I got a strong pace immediately and this helped me a lot to relax myself and do some good work,” he said.

“In the afternoon, the conditions were tricky after some rain, therefore I was lucky to have been fast in FP1. It was not full wet, but we had some patches on the track. I did laps in both conditions with the rain tyres and the slick and in both cases I had a good control of the bike.

“Now I’m looking forward to tomorrow, to show a fast pace again and be competitive for the qualifying.

"The main target this weekend is to beat Cal and Danilo, we are all together in the championship, so if I can be faster than them here I must take the opportunity."

Team-mate Hafizh Syahrin was learning the Twin Ring Motegi circuit on the Yamaha for the first time and ended FP1 in 24th place, improving to sixth in the tricky conditions in FP2.

He said: “During this first day, I didn’t do many laps in the dry, but I felt really good with the bike. In the last run this morning, we had some small issue with the brakes, therefore we couldn’t continue improving and I stopped the last run.

“Later in FP2, I had very good sensations, but it wasn’t enough time to use the dry time really well. Overall, I have a great feeling and I’m convinced that we can lower our lap time tomorrow morning.”