There was a welcome sight for those in Borgo Panigale at Aragon on Friday as the Ducatis of Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano finished the opening day of practice inside the top five at the second round of the World Superbike Championship.

Davies placed third overall, 0.395secs behind overall leader Jonathan Rea, with his team-mate two places behind in fifth. The performance comes after a strong private test in Jerez where Giuglaino and Davies topped the timesheets, having made made progress with the 1199's suspension and electronics.

After a trying 2013 where the team scored one single podium finish Superbike project director Ernesto Marinelli believes Ducati is re-establishing itself as a competitive superbike package.

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"Everything is going in the right direction," he said speaking exclusively for Crash.net. "For us this track has never been one of our favourites. We have to have some compromises but the position is not so bad.

"We had some problems more on the front than on the rear, on the braking stability," said the Italian. "It's something that we have to work on, the front forks to make it better. We have some possibilities to do so for tomorrow. The lap time is already good so things are looking not so bad."

Italian Giugliano showed added maturity in Australia where his qualifying speed was backed up by a considered ride to fourth in race one. But it was Davies' improved pace that pleased Marinelli and demonstrated what he believes to be an upward trend in Ducati's fortunes.

"We came here after a very positive test in Jerez. I would like to say we're very pleased that since the first winter test in Jerez the trend has always been positive and improving every time we're on the track and this is definitely positive. I think, for us, better tracks will come but already we're there. We need to tune the details but it looks like we have the pace to be competitive."

by Neil Morrison