Nicky Hayden was pleased to return to the sharp end of the MotoGP timesheet following today's practice session at Indianapolis, in which he set the second-quickest time.
The hour-long session was wet throughout, but the Ducati rider put in a quick time on his final lap to beat the works Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo to second place on home soil, behind Dani Pedrosa who set his time early on in the session before the heaviest of the rain.
Although the practice times are not necessarily reflective of the true pace in the dry, Hayden says he was happy with his day's work on the Desmosedici GP9.
"It feels good to be near the top again," he said. "The bike felt pretty good from the beginning and, after trying something new on the other bike which didn't work, we went back to the standard setting.
"The track was really tricky because there were sections with a lot of standing water and others where the grip was amazing -- you had to be really on your toes. Mid-way through the session a funny line formed -- I'm not sure if some kind of chemical came up through the asphalt from when they cleaned it, but it was pretty slick."
Hayden admitted that he pushed as hard as he could in the closing minutes of the session.
"Over the last couple of laps I just went for it because I knew I had a chance to be on top today and this is the highest I've been in any session this year," he said. "Truthfully, though, I need dry track time because I tend to start the weekend slowly and build up, so to lose a session to the weather is not an advantage to me.
"We need to start out strong in the morning and go from there. P1 would have been sweet but P2 at just a tenth of a second off gives us reason to smile. I'm delighted to be racing here at Indy so let's hope tomorrow brings more joy."
Hayden's teammate Mika Kallio would have also prefered dry conditions as he continued to learn his way in his second race weekend on a factory bike, finishing the session 11th fastest.
"I struggled for grip and feeling at the start and that made it hard for me to get confident," said the Finn. "We made a few changes and the last run was much better - I think with a few more laps we could have made some big progress.
"I'm not happy because a 2.4-second gap to the leader is big, but I think we can be much closer if I can find a little more feeling with the bike."