Coming in to the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, Nicky Hayden had feared that the lack of any winter testing at Jerez could count against him.
That's because at the two previous 2010 circuits, Sepang (two tests) and Qatar (test and then race), the 2006 world champion had been slow to find a competitive set-up for his factory Ducati.
But those fears proved unfounded at Jerez on Friday, when Hayden finished his first hour on the Spanish track with the new 'big bang' GP10 in an excellent third position, 0.417sec behind team-mate Casey Stoner.
“The session went well and I'm really happy right now because this is a big one for us,” he admitted. “I was fast in Malaysia and Qatar but that was after a lot of testing at those tracks, experimenting with many different settings, but we've come here and been fast out of the gate, which was one of my goals for this season - to be on the pace on Fridays.
“We didn't set the world on fire or break any track records so we're not getting carried away but the bike is close and if we can get it a little better in the fast corners we should have a good package.
“The team made one little change today that helped a lot and on my last exit I was able to stay in the 1'40s from the first lap to the last. It's a good start and if we keep working in this way we can have a good weekend.”
Jerez has traditionally been a tough circuit for the 800cc Ducati, with only one podium - a third place by Stoner last year - since 2007.