Nicky Hayden qualified above team-mate Casey Stoner, for the first since joining Ducati Marlboro at the start of 2009, on Saturday at Silverstone.
The pair will start in fifth and sixth places for the first British motorcycle grand prix to be held at the Northamptonshire track since 1986, with Hayden lapping just 0.062sec quicker than 20-time race winner Stoner.
Hayden beat Stoner for the first time, in a race they both finished as team-mates, at Jerez earlier this year.
“We made a step forward today,” said Hayden. “Yesterday I knew that we weren't as far off as we seemed and even though we didn't quite have the right feeling for the conditions a few small changes have helped make us faster.
“That said, my race pace isn't great - there are a couple of sections where I'm losing quite a lot of time and if we want to have a good race we need to find another few tenths. It will be an interesting race tomorrow because it is one thing to ride on your own at a new circuit and another thing altogether to mix it up in a group.
“We'll find out exactly where we are when the lights go out tomorrow.”
Stoner will also be looking for set-up improvements during morning warm-up.
“My race pace is fairly decent but the truth is we haven't improved as much as we would like,” said the Australian. “The biggest problem we're having at the moment is keeping the heat in the tyres and that brings on a bunch of other issues. The temperature drops off with every lap that goes by and as a result so does the grip.
“We also tried to make the bike more stable over the bumps but we lost a bit of handling and rear grip. We're doing our best to solve the problems and luckily still have the warm-up to try a few more things. Either way I think the race can be much better for us than qualifying.”