Spain's Mark Marquez, in sizzling form since the start of three days of pre-season testing, said Wednesday it was a "dream come true" to race nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi and other top MotoGP riders.
Marquez, 19, who won the Moto2 championship last year, has replaced the retired Australian Casey Stoner in the Honda team.
On the first day of testing Tuesday at the Sepang circuit, the Spanish teenager was the third fastest rider behind his team-mate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha's defending champion Jorge Lorenzo. Rossi came in fourth.
Marquez was 0.044 seconds behind Pedrosa, who set the fastest lap time at 2 minutes 01.157 seconds.
"Valentino was my hero. Dani was my reference. It is quite impressive when you see them on the track. It is my dream come true," he told AFP.
Marquez's best lap in the current testing was under the official Sepang race lap record of 2:02.108 set by Stoner. However the Australian set a 1:59.607 in last year's pre-season tests.
But Marquez said setting quick lap times was not the most important thing for him during testing.
"In MotoGP it is better to be constant in a good lap time; then the information is better" to prepare for the race, he said.
A modest Marquez said he would focus on improving his position during the MotoGP championship race, adding that a podium finish was not on his radar yet since Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Rossi "will be faster".
"(The) goal is to go race by race, try to enjoy and every time go better and better," he said.
However, after the first day of testing, Rossi praised Marquez's riding skills and determination.
"I like his attitude. He is like wanting to win the championship at the first strike," he told reporters.
Marquez said the Honda bike had plenty of potential and he would use the testing period to "play" with its electronics and adjust them.
"I feel so good on the bike. But still, I need to improve at Sepang but I know the bike has very good potential," he said.
The test continues until Thursday. The first race of the year will take place under floodlights in Qatar on the first weekend of April after two more test sessions.