Nicky Hayden was thrilled with his performance in practice at Jerez, but refused to get carried away despite his increased competitiveness.
Having initially struggled to get up to speed on the Ducati last year, Hayden has got ever closer to the pace in 2010 so far, and was third - 0.4s down on team-mate Casey Stoner - at Jerez today.
"I'm really happy right now because this is a big one for us," said Hayden.
"I was fast in Malaysia and Qatar but that was after a lot of testing at those tracks, experimenting with many different settings, but we've come here and been fast out of the gate, which was one of my goals for this season - to be on the pace on Fridays."
He preferred not to hail today's result as a turning point in his Ducati career, but was highly encouraged.
"We didn't set the world on fire or break any track records so we're not getting carried away but the bike is close and if we can get it a little better in the fast corners we should have a good package," Hayden said.
"The team made one little change today that helped a lot and on my last exit I was able to stay in the 1m40s from the first lap to the last. It's a good start and if we keep working in this way we can have a good weekend."