James Toseland thanked Fiat Yamaha team director Masahiko Nakajima after arguably his best opening day of the 2009 MotoGP season, at Assen on Thursday.
The Englishman instantly benefited from a radically revised set-up on his Tech 3 Yamaha after lengthy consultations with Nakajima following the last race in Catalunya.
Toseland was immediately able to find a fast pace running a softer rear shock spring and revised footpeg, handlebar and seat positions. Less than 20 minutes had elapsed when the 28-year surged into the top three, with only Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa faster.
The #52 was easily able to maintain a place in the top six until a typically frantic conclusion to the session saw him slip back to ninth. But the Assen WSBK winner was still only 0.537s away from fastest man Randy de Puniet and 0.174sec behind his Tech 3 team-mate Colin Edwards.
“It was good today and I enjoyed it out there,” said Toseland. “I know this track very well and that makes a massive difference when you come to a familiar track. All my knowledge of this place means I'm not thinking about where I need to be and I can just concentrate on the bike.
“I'm not too worried about being in ninth because the times are so close and I'm only half-a-second off first. I'm just pleased that I'm close to the front on the first day rather than being 1.1 or 1.2s off.
“My bike was a lot different today and we've moved more weight to the back,” he confirmed. “My bike had been set-up for a lot of grip, but as soon as the race tyre started to wear, I struggled and it's amazing how sensitive these bikes are to weight. We've gone a lot softer on the rear spring to get more load on the rear and I've got the grip and the drive now.
“I'd like to thank Mr Nakajima from Yamaha. I had a meeting with him on Sunday night in Barcelona and he has been in my garage all through that session giving me some help and I really appreciate his effort.
“This new setting feels quite a bit different because we've changed footpeg and handlebar position too, and while it doesn't feel as comfortable as my old setting, I'm definitely going round the track quicker and that's the main thing,” he concluded.
Toseland's best finish so far this season is seventh position.