Eugene Laverty said he was "almost surprised" as he backed up his fine pace in free practice at Silverstone by setting the fastest 'Open' time on Friday at Misano.

Without needing to make a great deal of changes to his base setting at the start of the day, the Northern Irishman was able to lap consistently on a track at which he had previously felt he would struggle.

Although his future with Aspar Honda remains uncertain despite being in the first of a two-year contract, Laverty ended the day 15th, a place ahead of next fastest 'Open' machine Loris Baz.

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"That's what we needed to do," said 29-year old. "I needed to make sure Silverstone wasn't just a flash in the pan. We've been making progress in recent races. In Silverstone we were strong and there here we were strong again. I'm almost surprised actually because I thought Silverstone, Aragon and Phillip Island we'd be strong - here I thought we might struggle.

"I surprised myself to be the fastest 'Open'. We have a bike that's working. Earlier in the year we had a bike that was working to a good level but we received the new swingarm in Assen and it was a big step up. It took a few rounds to get a base setting with it because we didn't get to test. Around Brno we started getting a good setting and that's what we're seeing now.

Asked what he felt his race pace was, Laverty felt the times he set on used tyres was another reason to feel optimistic.

"Anytime I went out I was doing 1m 34s. Before I switched to the new tyre I did two 35.0s and that was on the used tyre. My pace is more or less in the 34s right now for long runs. I'm more competitive than I thought we'd be today.

"There's not much difference in tyres here because the left side is the same. Although this track is clockwise strangely the places you can use the advantage of the soft tyre are the left corners.

"The idea of some of the right corners here is to brake really hard, stop the bike with it upright and go. We don't get the benefit of soft on the right side. It's going to be a little advantage so we might as well race it."