Marco Melandri believes Hayate Kawasaki is back on the pace at Laguna Seca after a run of poor events.
The Italian took seventh place in Friday practice and hopes to maintain that form in qualifying.
"It's been a good day for me," Melandri told the official MotoGP website. "I really like this track and it looks like the bike is working quite well, so we've had a good start to the weekend.
"Now we've got to keep working hard and see what's going on for the race, because 32 laps on this track is going to be very, very tough."
After a very promising start to the season for the new team formed in the wake of Kawasaki's departure, Hayate and Melandri's fortunes have declined in recent weeks.
Melandri took three straight top six finishes, including an incredible podium at Le Mans, but for the past three races he has been unable to get into the top ten, apart from some brief heroics during the wet part of the Italian Grand Prix.
Given those frustrations, he said he was relieved to only have minor issues to attend to after practice at Laguna Seca.
"We have to improve the turning a little bit, especially when the tyre drops off a little bit. Also rear grip can be not so bad for us," he said.
"Just normal things, so I'm quite happy because compared to the last three races, where we've been struggling a lot, this is a good step forward for us."