Carlos Checa gave a glimpse of his best form on the first day of action at Miller Motorsports Park, the Spaniard claiming a provisional front row slot.
Returning to the scene of his double victory last season, Checa led both the free practice and provisional qualifying sessions before being demoted to an eventual third position on each occasion.
Nonetheless, Checa was pleased with his competitive performance, claiming the bike is proving quick and consistent around the American circuit once again.
“It looks like we're on the pace at the moment,” he said. “As we know from last year, the track suits the whole package really well but I think it will be a lot more difficult this year. Ben (Spies) and Max (Biaggi) are up there, too, and I'm sure Haga will come good as well. But we have the speed and consistency of speed, which is important.
“The tyres are working well, although we have a couple of issues with the softer tyre, which is causing the bike to chatter a bit. However, I'm sure this is something we can work on and I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
On the other side of the garage, team-mate Jonathan Rea was frustrated to have not quite gotten to grips with the new circuit in tenth position, even if he is certain his form will improve.
“All my problems seem to be in the first sector, which is where I need to pull my finger out. We don't know what the specific problem is but it seems to come when I'm leant right over on the tyre. We'll have a good look later and overlay the data from my two team-mates to see what we can improve.
“We haven't even started throwing tyres at the bike yet but, of course, there's a lot more time to come from me – it's my first visit here and I'm learning the track a little more in each session. But I really like it here; it's fast and flowing and really suits my style, so I just need to remove that mental block in the first sector and we'll be there.”