Valentino Rossi says he has been able to ride “closer to the limit” on the first day of pre-season MotoGP testing at Sepang thanks to improvements made by Michelin to its tyres over the winter.
The seven-time premier class champion ended up second quickest on Monday's opening test day, just over a second adrift of factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
And Rossi says he is already feeling more at home with the new-for-2016 Michelin rubber compared to the post-season Valencia test last November, which was characterised by numerous front-end washouts.
"The Michelin has improved already," Rossi told media after the conclusion of testing at Sepang. "Already the rear was not so bad, but they have improved the front and the first feeling is not so bad.
"You can arrive a little bit closer to the limit; a little bit stronger. It's a long way [off] still, we need to improve, but we start development to understand what the Michelin needs from the bike.
"If you use the settings we used [last year] with Bridgestones with Michelins, the bike is impossible. Now we start to understand the Michelin needs to give the maximum performance."
Rossi also said much of his day's running was done on a hybrid 2015/2016 YZR-M1 machine, with only limited laps completed on the fully updated version that he will spend the next two days getting used to.
"One bike was the 2015 [model], I did some laps just to get the feeling, and then we have two more bikes – one similar to 2015 and one more modified," the Italian explained.
"Today I concentrated on the one similar to 2015, because we have to work on the electronics especially.
"I tried the other one once, and the feeling was not so bad, but at the moment I don't know if it's better or worse. Tomorrow and the third day it will be important to understand this."
Lorenzo: "We couldn't start better"
Lorenzo, meanwhile, was left satisfied with his day of running, lapping less than a tenth slower than his best race lap from 2015's race at Sepang.
"To be honest, today everything was pretty easy," said the Spaniard.
"I was surprised about the possibility to go so fast with the Michelin, and also the electronics have improved so much compared to the first day at Valencia.
"I feel good with the tyres, especially under acceleration, I can take my best potential in this area. So, for the moment, we couldn't start better."