MotoGP championship leader Valentino Rossi finished day one of the Valencia title decider in fifth place, 0.364s behind team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo has now led the Friday timesheets for eight out of the nine events since the summer break, but for Rossi it was better than usual day one form.
The Italian - who has a seven point lead over Lorenzo but is forced to start last due to his Sepang penalty - has only been higher than fifth on Friday once since the summer break.
Rossi certainly sounded confident when he spoke to the media in the team hospitality.
“I'm quite happy, quite satisfied about this Friday because we start well from the morning and especially we work well during the practice and I was able to improve my lap time every exit. Also with the used tyre, that here is very important considering the long race and the tyre slides a lot, ” Rossi began.
“We continued in a good direction in the afternoon, I was more competitive than the morning and I was able to improve my lap time. We decided to work also with the hard tyre and I was strong, I felt good with the bike and I make some good lap times. So [the hard rear] can be an option for the race, especially because starting from last I have to go fast for 30 laps to try to recover.
“At the end we did a comparison with the soft [medium rear tyre] which is for sure a bit faster and easier, especially in the first laps. The difference is not so big, but you can go a bit faster, so we need to decide which way forward.
“But in general I'm happy because I ride well, I feel good with the bike and for the first day it is a good performance already, with some good lap times. We'll try to continue like this tomorrow.”
While some Honda riders are struggling with the front tyre, saying it is too soft, Rossi declared: “We feel good with both tyres.”
Rossi added that he expects to take part in Saturday's qualifying as normal, even though his lap time will be meaningless.
“We will speak with the team but at this moment I think a normal qualifying because very difficult to use the Qualifying 2 to make a lot of laps, like a race simulation, because there will be a lot of traffic.”
Key to The Doctor's chances of finally winning a tenth world title will be the speed with which he can cut through the field on Sunday.
“Everything depends on my pace,” Rossi said of the passing opportunities available to him at the tight and twisty Spanish circuit. “If I'm ok and we work well on the setting, can be less difficult.
“But Valencia is a difficult place to recover [positions] because it is quite narrow and also in the straight we are not very fast. We have not very high speed. So we need to understand some other points for overtaking and we need a good setting for braking into the corners.”