Johann Zarco said he felt right at home ‘almost immediately’ with the Tech 3 Yamaha on Friday at Phillip Island in Australia.

The Frenchman was sixth fastest with a time of 1m 29.686s set in FP2, which was half-a-second down on Andrea Iannone’s top time on the Ecstar Suzuki.

Zarco said: “Yes it was a good day and I quickly got a good pace, and I was happy to feel comfortable almost immediately. It has been difficult to improve because maybe we were close to the good things, so then the improvements become more complicated to find.

“In the afternoon I think we did that, the step that we need under acceleration to control the bike well. At the end I could fight with the new tyre and be competitive. It is quite a good first day and I feel we are close to something pretty good but I will cross my fingers that we can find a good set-up to do it well.”

Traditionally a strong circuit for Yamaha, Zarco said that remained the case with the M1 after the opening day of free practice.

“Overall with the safe front that we have then, yes – it is a good track for Yamaha. With the bad acceleration that we have it is complicated to have a good last sector,” said Zarco.

“Who had the best lap time? Iannone? It means he has good acceleration and it is working well there. That’s why. I think we are not far from a good acceleration and once we will catch it then I think about the podium.

“With the MotoGP bikes the wind is not really a problem and we sometimes have a good technique to control the wheelie and the movement in front so it is no problem. I struggled much more when I was in Moto2.”

Asked if the schedule change with Moto2 running before the premier class had made much difference, Zarco said: “Logically it would be almost like the race, as we race after the Moto2 category. But at the moment the track is so fast that I’m focused on other things that I try to understand, rather than if the grip is good or not with the Moto2 tyres.”