As a veteran rider once told me when I was in the same position; new to riding, new bike wanting to go faster, "Having a 'fast' bike will bring you trouble, having a 'quick' bike will you smiles."
But in either case skill takes precedence, as the OP pointed out with friends being quicker on his bike than him on their 600s.
If the bug bite to modify is too great to avoid though, single-handedly the best modification to do to this (and any entry level) bike is to improve how well it grips the road; that is upgrade the suspension and then when due for change, get stickier tyres. There's a bunch of threads on the matter you can search on, with a few hyperlinked from 'my garage' in my sig.
Make it quicker through the corners, and improve on skills to be faster overall, and the horsepower figure won't matter as much.
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