KUALA LUMPUR: Rookie Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah continued to close the gap with his more experienced peers on the opening day of MotoGP testing in Qatar yesterday.
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider clocked a best lap of one minute and 56.731 seconds at the Losail International Circuit to place 22nd among 24 riders.
On a positive note, Hafizh's time was only 1.678s adrift of Movistar Yamaha's Maverick Vinales (1:55.053s) who was the fastest man on that day. Hafizh was 1.756s off the pace in the last test session in Buriram a fortnight ago.
The 23-year-old felt that he already has a firm understanding of his bike and is now focused on slowly shaving off the seconds.
"I felt very good overall, I had a lot of confidence from the beginning," said Hafizh.
"I experienced some minor issues late in tonight's session but in just a few minutes I managed to get a good feeling again.
"We tried to understand the new aerodynamics and by the end of the session I was able to give the guys (crew) some good feedback.
"I was smooth and calm and am happy to say that I already understand the bike now. I feel like I can improve even more but we are taking everything step by step.
"Because if you are going too quick too fast you can easily be confused.”
Qatar is only Hafizh's second test with the team after Buriram as he was signed as a last minute replacement for the ill Jonas Folger.
The first race of the season will also be held at Losail on March 18.