Having been just twelfth fastest on Friday, Loris Capirossi and Rizla Suzuki moved up the order on day two of the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril.
The Italian claimed sixth in final free practice and then seventh in qualifying, marking his best grid position for seven races - since starting sixth at Assen in June.
"Overall it's been ok for us today, we made some improvements this morning and tried to continue with that this afternoon,” said Loris. “We have got a bit of vibration from the front and we need to resolve that, but other than that we are quite competitive.
“I want to say thank-you to Suzuki, because normally this is one of the worst tracks for us and we have improved a lot on the rear grip - which was a big problem in the past - and the new package we have is much better.
“We have improved on top speed as well, we are now quite competitive and for us this is great and a very important step forward,” he insisted.
“Loris showed a lot of determination to pull out a good lap at the end of the session,” said team manager Paul Denning. “It was a bit ragged and you definitely wouldn't have wanted to be sitting on the back, but now we have achieved more outright speed we hope we can smooth some things out in warm-up and then have a decent grand prix."
Things were not so encouraging on the other side of the Suzuki garage, with team-mate Chris Vermeulen battling a sore back and qualifying down in 15th place.
“We've got a reasonable race set-up,” said the Australian, who looks set to join Kawasaki in WSBK next year. “I'm a bit disappointed in actual performance because I just couldn't quite get the lap-time I wanted, but I was able to achieve the one I did quite easily so we should be able to run at that pace all race. Hopefully I'll get a good start and make up a few places early on.”
“Chris has never been 'Captain Qualifier' and today was a disappointing result, which without any question he will improve upon tomorrow,” said Denning.