Cal Crutchlow qualified a season best sixth for Ducati's home Italian MotoGP at Mugello, aided by the debut of a revised engine.
Pramac's Andrea Iannone set a new MotoGP top speed record on Saturday morning, with Crutchlow and team-mate Andrea Dovizioso also impressed with the upgrade.
"We ran the new engine today. It's a rocket! No doubt about that,” said Crutchlow. “We're pleased to be able to take some advantage because we struggle in other areas. So to have a little bit of power to get out of trouble is good.
“The performance of the engine was supposed to make the bike a bit smoother but it doesn't seem to have done that. It seems to be very similar in that area, but in fifth and sixth gear it is going really well.
“We'll need that in the race tomorrow and hopefully it'll help us be a little bit more competitive. But what we give up in other areas it doesn't make up for.
“I'd tried the engine in a test but today was the first time [in a grand prix]. I think Iannone used it yesterday but we changed last night and Dovi did as well.”
The Englishman is now hoping to make further handling improvements for the race, having struggled on longer stints to get the bike stopped and turned into corners.
"To be on the second row is a lot better than where we have been lately. We seem to have found something in qualifying, but the feeling I have with the bike after two laps is not very good. It seems as soon as the tyre wear starts the bike becomes very difficult to ride and to stop.
“That what's I was complaining about in FP4 but when we had the new tyre in qualifying it was much better. So we'll have to have a look at the settings for tomorrow because I believe that if we make a step there we can be more competitive."
Crutchlow, whose best Ducati result to date was sixth on his debut in Qatar, added:
“It will be a big battle in the race because we can see the times are very close and I think tyre wear will be a big factor because we seem not to be able to get the medium tyre - our hard tyre - to work at optimum temperature.
“I believe that with the heat proof coating on the tyre now it is not getting to optimum temperature because it isn't actually that hot. But everybody is in the same situation and Ducati are doing a good job."
“I've got a positive feeling for tomorrow. The team are working hard, we'll make some changes tonight and I'll give 100 percent tomorrow.”