Marco Melandri's confidence in the 2010 Honda improved another notch during Monday's post-race test at Jerez.
After a demoralising last place at round one in Qatar, the former MotoGP World Championship runner-up claimed a more competitive eighth in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix - just 0.198sec behind top satellite rider Mika Kallio.
Although only eleventh on Monday, Melandri - whose best race lap had been one-second behind factory Honda rider Dani Pedrosa - reduced the gap to the top to 0.704sec and felt more was possible.
"It has been a really positive day which we have spent working on our race pace, having suffered a little yesterday after a few laps with a full tank,” said the san Carlo Honda Gresini rider. “We made some changes and completed a race simulation to see if they had the desired effect and I'm quite happy with what we found.
“I also tried for a fast time on a soft tyre but I ran into too many riders on track and didn't manage to improve by the few tenths that I could have but really that wasn't the priority today.
“Things are progressing now and although we are still some way short of the top guys we still have to take things step by step. My pace today was noticeably stronger than yesterday, when I only managed two laps in the 1´40s and spent the rest of the time in the mid-1´41s. Today I was consistently in the 1´40s so I'm confident about going to Le Mans, where I hope we can take another step forward,” he declared.
Fellow Italian Marco Simoncelli was a fraction slower than Melandri on Monday.
"I'm quite happy because we found a few positive things today,” said the MotoGP rookie, who finished eleventh in the race. “We haven't completely resolved the problem I had in the race but we reduced it and I managed to improve my pace on a consistent basis on hard tyres so I'm happy.
“We didn't manage to find any more rear grip but we took other steps forward, like improving my speed on a soft tyre, so we go to Le Mans with high hopes of doing well. With time to sit down and analyse the data we gathered here, working out what worked and what didn't, I'm sure we can improve even more in time for the next race. We could do with test days like these more often!" he admitted.