Franco Morbidelli says adjusting and improving on the Petronas Yamaha SRT will be “a never-ending process” as he continues to impress with instant speed on the opening day of the Jerez MotoGP winter test.

The 2018 MotoGP top rookie caught the eye switching to the new satellite Yamaha squad last week at the post-season Valencia test and continued his progress on the opening day of the Jerez test with a best lap of 1m 38.659s – only slower than Maverick Vinales out of the Yamahas – to take sixth place on the final times.

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While the Italian rider accepts his long run pace still holds room for improvement, feeling he is suffering from a similar drop in pace on used tyres as the factory duo, Morbidelli was pleased to reconfirm his outright speed at Jerez’s different track characteristics compared to Valencia.

But the 23-year-old feels the path to consistent speed remains a long one, along with new MotoGP squad Petronas Yamaha SRT, but remains optimistic having previously described the bike as “like riding on butter”.

“I am very happy as we reconfirmed the good feeling we had in Valencia on a different track and also on a difficult track for Yamaha,” Morbidelli said. “I was a good day from the speed point of view but pace-wise we need to improve a lot.

“We need to understand where we have to improve and I still have to keep on learning the bike and keep on improving on riding the bike. So far so good.

“Mainly we focused on adjusting the electronics on this track. We worked during the early stages of the test on the electronics, nothing new just fixing up our electronics. Then we tried some different settings but nothing special.”

While the initial steps adapting to the Yamaha have been quick, having spent his rookie MotoGP campaign on the aging Marc VDS Honda, Morbidelli remains conscious of a long path ahead.

“It is a never-ending process,” he explained. “You need to get the right feeling and understand what is the style of the bike and try to understand it to make the big step in the beginning and then it is a never-ending process.

“I think we are in a good way, this first big step to adapt, we are on a good path but I don’t know if it is finished or not. We need to check it out on other different tracks. Then after that step it is a never-ending process.”