Despite tricky conditions on the opening day of MotoGP testing at Mandalika, Pol Espargaro set an impressive pace to finish four tenths clear of brother Aleix Espargaro.  

The Repsol Honda rider was tenth heading into the final hour, however, a 1:32.466s eventually put him -0.471s clear of Aleix, while Brad Binder made a much improved start to testing for KTM with third. 

Espargaro’s time was also four tenths quicker than WorldSBK champion Toprak Razgatlioglu's pole position time from last season - the latter setting his best time in much better conditions. 

Speaking after his impressive opening day, Espargaro was pleased with the performance but remained grounded, saying it’s ‘just the beginning’. 

"It’s important to start well, but this is just the beginning. For sure we are happy with the result and the bike is working well here," added Espargaro. "It’s fast, it’s quick in one lap and in the race pace, but it’s just the beginning. 

"Times are going to improve a lot tomorrow, after tomorrow as well. If the weather is not changing as much as today then it’s going to be much better."

With the Mandalika track being new to every rider along with the above-mentioned tricky conditions, setting a time attack was less representative than at most circuits due to each lap getting quicker as the track continued improving. 

Asked how much margin was left in his fastest time, Espargaro said: "Well the problem is that you don’t know until you put the tyre in and you go for it. 

"The track is improving every two hours and after the MotoGP bikes create the line, the track gets a little bit more rubber; it was very, very dirty at the beginning of the day. 

"Through the day the track was improving a lot. It’s difficult to predict how the track is going to feel, which lap time is going to come, so every time you do a time attack you get surprised because it comes better than you expect. It’s just a case of cleaning the track and it’s going to be better tomorrow."

With two more days of action to come, lap times could significantly drop if it remains dry throughout. In fact, Espargaro believes getting close to a 1m 29s lap is possible. 

If that were to happen then it would mean going 2.5 seconds quicker than his time from today, while also going 2.8 seconds quicker than Razgatlioglu managed last November. 

"I really like it (Mandalika track). It’s quite fast so the lap times are quite short, very fast," continued Espargaro. "For sure when the track improves we can be close to the 29s, so under the 1m 30s on this track is pretty fast. 

"And it’s not so short, the track is quite big, quite high and there are sectors where the bike is very slow, but there are also some sectors like s2, s3 which are pretty fast."