Nicky Hayden says he is not getting too excited about his rapid time in the opening free practice session for MotoGP's Qatar Grand Prix on Thursday night.
Ducati had appeared to be behind Honda and Yamaha during winter testing, but Hayden managed to set the third-fastest time in Losail's first practice session, behind only Casey Stoner's Honda and Jorge Lorenzo's Yamaha. However, Hayden noted that his 1m56.924s best came on a soft tires.
"This track is a lot different than what we experienced in Jerez, more open and a lot wider. It was quite dirty and not very grippy, which helped us a bit," said the American. "We started off on the hard tire and then switched to the soft for the last exit, and I was able to do a nice lap.
"In general we were pretty fast and consistent, and I've certainly had worse sessions here, but we'll just stay calm, keep trying to improve and try to get a good grid spot on Saturday night.
"It's just one session, and there's a long way to go. Sunday night is what counts, and it would be nice to get this team a result it deserves."
Valentino Rossi was a second slower and back in 10th place on the sister Ducati, having stayed on hard tires.
"It's the first practice and I used the hard tire the whole session, trying to do a lot of laps in order to understand it," he said. "The new tire is much better for warming up, so good for safety, but it started to slide a lot after some laps and made some of the understeer worse.
"We have to work with the setting and also the electronics. The soft will be important for Saturday, but the hard will be the tire for the race. Tomorrow we'll try to do better."