Andrea Dovizioso made use of some new traction control settings to record his best Friday practice time on his very last lap of the session at Laguna Seca, consolidating third place for the Italian.
At a time when Dovizioso's place in the Repsol Honda team is looking under threat from Casey Stoner's 2011 arrival, the #4 also did his future hopes no harm by getting the better of team-mate and double 2010 race winner Dani Pedrosa.
“I'm happy with the start we've made to the weekend today. We got into a good rhythm quickly and we're faster than we were last year here," said Dovizioso. "This year's RC212V is much more controllable and so it's quite a lot easier to get into a rhythm and set quick and consistent lap times.
"On our last run out of the pits we tried some new electronics settings for traction control and the feeling was generally good. Of course we need to continue working on this and testing them tomorrow to understand the changes better, but it's a positive step.
"The asymmetric tyre Bridgestone has brought here is working well. I used the harder Bridgestones for my fastest laps so I'm confident we can find a good race setting and also qualify well tomorrow.”
Pedrosa was a further 0.334s behind his team-mate and is certain that there's more to come in tomorrow's two sessions.
The Spaniard is looking to take his first back-to-back wins in the MotoGP class this weekend following his victory at the previous race in Germany last Sunday.
After a promising start to this afternoon's session, Pedrosa didn't improve his lap times as much as he anticipated and is looking for improved rear grip and more stability at the front - areas his crew will work on this evening.
But having won last year's U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca after also placing fourth in Friday practice, the 24-year-old is confident of closing the gap to the top of the timesheets in tomorrow's practice and qualifying sessions.
“I know we can improve quite a lot from today so I'm reasonably confident about the rest of the weekend," he insisted. "After the first run this afternoon we made some settings adjustments to the bike which didn't improve the pace as we'd anticipated and there are a few areas we need to work on in order to move forward.
"For the first day the lap times at the top are quick already but I'm not worried about the gap because I know we can improve from here. We need to work to increase the grip at the rear and also get some more stability at the front. Last year here we were also not so fast on the first day so we'll keep working and get ready to take a step forward tomorrow.”
Pedrosa starts round nine 47 points behind title leader Jorge Lorenzo, who was second to Casey Stoner in Friday practice.