Nicky Hayden felt his 2012 season could get under way properly in Sepang testing on Tuesday, as his shoulder held up well following recent surgery.
The Ducati rider was barely able to participate in the previous test after it became clear that the injuries he sustained in a December training accident were more severe than first thought. Hayden underwent surgery earlier this month, and was able to complete 55 laps and go sixth-fastest on his return to the track today.
"I'm obviously still not at 100 percent, but considering I had shoulder surgery three weeks ago, it went better than I expected," he said. "I felt much better than at the last test and was able to give some good feedback, so I owe a big thanks to Dr. [Arthur] Ting and his staff."
The American said his improved fitness meant he could now get a proper feel for Ducati's new GP12.
"This is the first time I could really ride this bike well, and I enjoyed it," said Hayden. "The chassis gives you a lot of feedback, and it's easier to understand the limit. We made some changes throughout the day and I pretty much got quicker every exit."
He added that he was still taking precautions to avoid making his injury worse again.
"It would have been nice to ride in the rain, but I didn't want to do something silly and crash on the shoulder," Hayden said. "Hopefully it's not too sore when I wake up so I can do another half-day or so tomorrow."