Mika Kallio proclaimed himself delighted to have made such a positive start to his career as a factory Ducati rider as he began his tenure as stand-in for Casey Stoner during free practice for the Czech MotoGP.
The Finn will fill in for the former world champion in the next three races and ended the first hour's running at Brno seventh overall having spent much of practice running in the top five. Kallio also outpaced the team's other regular rider Nicky Hayden.
"It has been a really exciting day for me and to wear the famous red colors of Ducati Marlboro Team for the first time was a great honor, although once I got out on track I wasn't thinking about what I was wearing," said the 26-year-old. "We started out with my setting from Donington on one bike and something similar to what Casey ran here last year on the other, with a few changes to suit my preferences.
"Both settings had different strengths but the same weakness, which was a lack of rear grip on the left side.
"It was the same problem with both the softer and harder tyre so we're a little confused about what is causing it at the moment, but we'll sit down this evening and work out a plan for tomorrow."
Kallio is already used to the GP9 having ridden the Pramac satellite version for most of the season. But while the factory insists all the bikes are similar, the Finn said he enjoyed riding Stoner's usual bike.
"They tell me the bike is virtually the same as my satellite machine but I can't help but feel it has a little extra!
"Usually I struggle a little on the first day because even though I know the circuits I am riding them all for the first time on a MotoGP bike this year so to finish seventh today, with such a small gap to third place, is really positive."
Hayden was disappointed not to be closer to Kallio's pace.
"Twelfth place isn't a particularly great start for us but we made progress with every run and I was getting faster and faster as the session went on so I can't say it was a complete disaster," he said. "Obviously we are going to have to do a lot better tomorrow but I think we've found a bit of a direction with the bike. "We're struggling a little with the rear on corner entry, it feels really loose, so our main target is to fix this problem.
"I was pushing the front a lot early in the session so we made a change, got it steering a lot better and we were able to progress from there. Now we need to work on the rear and try to make a big step forward tomorrow."