Bradley Smith is targeting a second row start in the Italian MotoGP at Mugello after ending day one as the leading satellite rider.
Smith edged ahead of fellow Briton Cal Crutchlow to finish fifth quickest with a lap in 1m 48.038s on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3, which put him 0.086s ahead of the CWM Honda rider.
He is now aiming to remain in the top six on Saturday and believes he ended Friday with something in reserve.
“At the end of the day I love the track, I've got a good previous record at this place. The last two years have definitely been ropey for me,” said Smith.
“But the good thing is that we turn up, we put the base setting in, I feel happy, was able to try both tyres, both tyres work. That's nice.
“Everything's a little bit easier for me at the moment, just because everything seems to work. I know how I need to ride. The bike does what I want it to at the right points, and then it's just a case of refining. I'm on pace from Fridays, which is always good.
“I can use the hard tyre. To race it, I think it will depend on how the track progresses, we need to see how it progresses in terms of grip tomorrow, if it gets any better with a bit of rubber down, then we can really decide what we're going to be able to do,” he added.
“The nice thing is I'm not maxed out like I was in Le Mans, I think I could have extracted more from the bike today, so I have that plus a few things that we want to improve.”
Quizzed on whether or not he was able to gain a slipstream from any of the Ducati riders, with the Italian machines heading the top speed times easily at Mugello, Smith said his M1 'didn't have a hope'.
“No. I've never been able to stay in a Ducati slipstream. The only Ducati slipstream I've been able to stay in was Argentina down the back straight with Yonny Hernandez,” he said.
“That's about the only one. Obviously I had front row seats behind Iannone, and there's not a hope that I'd even stay close. Neither did the Honda, which makes it even less for me.
“The power [of the Ducati] is pretty impressive, but it's coming from a lot of areas, not just the grunt, but also the fact that it comes off the corner, it has good grip, good side grip, it doesn't wheelie as much as our bikes.
“All those things allow it to have more power and less electronic cuts. It's not only fuel and engine, it's good craftsmanship.”
On Saturday's expectations, Smith added: “Right now, we have Dani [Pedrosa] coming back into form, so we have to expect that he's going faster. Valentino [Rossi] is working on something today, I believe, because if you have a look at his runs, he was working on things.
“The factory teams, when they go to sleep at night, they wake up the next morning with half a second from FP3.
“But right now, we're trying to stay inside that top six as much as we can. We're not expecting ourselves to be on the front row tomorrow, but if I can put myself on the second row, that's the aim.”
Smith seemed surprised when he was asked if he had received a new chassis from Yamaha for Mugello with his team-mate, Pol Espargaro, benefiting from an upgrade.
“I didn't know that he has a new chassis. So no I don't. I have exactly the same [as before],” said Smith. “It's news to me, so I can go back and ask what's going on.”