Sylvain Guintoli was enthused by his first impressions at Motegi, where he is sampling a number of new parts that could find their way onto the 2019 GSX-RR.

It is believed the Frenchman has a new chassis and updated engine to try this weekend, as he makes his third wildcard appearance of the year, with the factory keeping one eye on 2019. He was also seen using an updated aerodynamic package, as was Alex Rins.

The former World Superbike champion set the 21st fastest time in the dry FP1 session, before impressing with his run to tenth in the afternoon, when riders encountered a damp, drying track.

“This weekend is very exciting because we’re mainly working towards next year,” said Guintoli. “At the moment there are many different things to try so we’re assessing the new parts one by one before blending it all together.

“The current bike is already really good, but it’s still important for us to try new things and it’s going very well.

“It seems like we’re getting a bit stronger on top speed, the handling is already fantastic, so it’s about finding the balance of adding new things without compromising our existing strong points.”

The day was also positive for Andrea Iannone, who was soon up to speed, posting the sixth quickest time of the day. The performance of his GSX-RR gave him the impression he could “battle at the front” on Sunday.

“This morning’s FP1 was really good,” said the Italian. “The track here in Japan is great with really strong braking and hard acceleration. We started well and the feeling with the bike is good.

“For sure it’s important to keep improving practice by practice, but we’re starting from a strong point. I’m hoping to arrive on the start line ready to battle at the front.”

For Rins, the 19th quickest time in FP1 wasn’t much to shout about. But the Spaniard revealed he used just one set of tyres through the entire 45 minutes.

The two-time podium finisher also felt the new aerodynamic package is “an improvement” on what he used before.

“The feeling was good but the weather has been strange; raining on and off, and I don’t really like this feeling. Luckily FP1 was completely dry so we were able to test the bike a bit and try different settings. I decided to keep the same set of tyres for the whole session.

“We also tried a new aero fairing and it seems to be an improvement. Apparently tomorrow the weather could be the same as today, but we’ll give 100% whatever it’s like.”