Aleix Espargaro was the quickest 'Open' rider all three days at Sepang. (Photo: Dorna Communications)

was the quickest ‘Open’ rider all three days at . (Photo: Dorna Communications)

If the opening preseason test at Sepang was any indication of what is to come in 2014, then expect Aleix Espargaro to be a serious contender for wins and podium finishes.

The Spaniard concluded the three-day test in fourth on his ‘Open’ FTR-M1, joining only Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo as riders to complete a lap under the two-minute mark.

Espargaro used the cooler temperatures in the morning to register a time of 1:59.998 before shifting focus to longer race simulation runs.¬†However, pain limited Espargaro’s ability to gather maximum data.

“I have a lot of pain on the hand so I was not able to do 20 laps like the race distance,” said Espargaro. “But we did 12 laps with good pace. We know that our target on the next test is to keep trying with used tires because as soon as the tire has more than 12 laps it goes light [degrades] and we’re struggling a little bit with electronics on the second part of the race [simulation].”

The elder Espargaro brother admitted it was not easy leaving his CRT-Championship winning Aspar team, but the 24-year-old rider is now pleased with the direction his new FTR squad is heading in, and rightfully so.

“Finally, I think it was the right decision [to move to FTR],” said a jubilant Espargaro. “We are in a good position, the bike is working really good. I feel really good with the team after the first test. So yes, let’s say it was the right decision.”

The Team will be back in action at Sepang on Feb. 26-28 for the second preseason test.

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