Colin Edwards picked up some Mugello 'tricks' from home hero Valentino Rossi on his way to sixth on the grid for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider clocked his best time with 13 minutes remaining, at which point he was third quickest, but the 35-year-old slipped down to the second row in an enthralling final ten minutes.
“I never plan on going out and following anybody but right at the start of the session Valentino [winner at Mugello for the last seven years] was right in front of me and he had no problem with me following,” explained Edwards.
“So taking into account he's the Mugello expert I got in behind him to see if I could learn something and I picked up a couple of tricks.
"In a couple of places like the chicanes he hits the apex later at the first part to get a better drive out of the second part. I was more sweeping through them without getting a really good drive, so that helped me a bit.
“I'm sure I can run 1min 49secs in the race. We changed the geometry to help with the front stability and it helped make the bike much more agile. And that's crucial here with the fast changes of direction.
"You really need to flow round here without having to muscle the bike around because that gets pretty tough for 23 laps. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and putting on a good show for my guys at Tech 3 who have been awesome again,” he concluded.
Team-mate James Toseland will start a disappointing 14th.
“I'm pretty frustrated because I feel I should be much higher up the grid,” said the Englishman. “We were playing around with the suspension settings all weekend and been going in the right direction, but when I upped my pace on the softer compound tyre the rear shock setting wasn't quite right.
"When the rear tyre was loaded as I opened the throttle it just had a harsh feeling with little movement, so we weren't finding as much grip from the tyre as we could do. We made some changes in the session without making any big progress and right at the end on my last soft tyre we found something a bit better.
“But it was too late unfortunately and if we had found that direction a bit earlier it would have given me more time to build up my pace on the softer tyre. I'm frustrated because I feel I can be strong at this track, but I'll work hard with my guys tonight to try and find a better setting. I'm still confident that I can do good times in the race and gain a few places for a good result and as always I'll never give up."