Stefan Bradl converted a quietly consistent 2012 season into Rookie of the Year honors, finishing eighth in points and scoring four top-five finishes on a satellite LCR Honda.
But German Bradl could be one of the breakthrough riders challenging the Honda and Yamaha factory teams for podium positions, if early returns from Sepang testing are any indication.
Bradl was fifth overall Tuesday on an RC213V upgraded to factory spec, just six-tenths behind leader Dani Pedrosa's factory Honda. Bradl also was just two-tenths behind seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi on a factory Yamaha.
"I am very satisfied about this first day of test," Bradl said. "The weather and the asphalt temperature were perfect, and we could easily complete out test program.
"Thanks to my new winter training, I feel better fit on these conditions, and I found the guys very motivated and even more technically prepared."
Bradl eschewed the usual offseason training staples of motorcycle racers - cycling and motocross - for a regimen of gymnastics, boxing, swimming, tennis and cross-country skiing, two hours per day.
But Bradl took that fitness program to a unique, hardcore level by doing some of his circuit training while wearing his racing leathers.