Factory Ducati riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden were among the riders to feature on provisional pole during Saturday's hectic MotoGP qualifying session at Le Mans.
But while Hayden slipped all the way back to eleventh on the ever-drying track, Rossi was able to claim his best qualifying of the season with seventh place (+1.269s).
“I had to pass a rider on my good lap, otherwise I could have been faster, but anyway, I'd say that it's going pretty well,” declared the Italian, whose only podium on the Desmosedici came at the French track last year.
“I'm a bit sorry not to have made the second row, which was pretty close, but the fact remains that this is our best qualifying session of the season and that we were also at the same level in this morning's dry session.
“This afternoon we did a good job of adapting to the track conditions, which changed quite quickly, and every exit I found myself on the track at the right time. We made another small step forward compared to Estoril, and we worked well.
“We'll see what conditions we find tomorrow. If it's dry we'll have to try to start well and stay with those in front for as long as possible, and maybe we'll be able to cut a little more time.”
Rossi has taken a best finish of seventh so far this year.
Hayden meanwhile heads into Sunday still a long way from finding a race set-up.
“It was quite a hectic session, with just enough rain to complicate things. With us being behind on the setup, we needed some dry time, as the lap times just aren't coming for us in those conditions,” said the American.
“We've tried a lot of different options, but we still haven't solved the problems we have on this track: running wide in some places, problems turning, and some chatter. We're having trouble finding a really good direction. The team's not giving up, and we'll be back to do our best tomorrow.”