Valentino Rossi believes Ducati will be much more competitive in the Czech Republic this weekend than it has been of late, after an encouraging performance in Friday practice at Brno.
After two abject races in America, Rossi was positive that Brno would prove more fruitful for Ducati, and his sixth place in second practice, less than half a second off the pace, suggested his confidence was well-founded.
"I'm happy because we went pretty well today, and in particular, the gap to the front makes us fairly optimistic," he said. "This is a beautiful track that I like a lot. It's where I got my first win and my first world title, and we were also pretty strong here last year on the Ducati.
"Both of today's sessions were good. We worked well, trying to find the best setup compromise for this circuit, and when we put on the soft tyre, we were finally able to improve the performance and to do a number of laps not too far from the leaders' times. The pace is also decent."
Rossi emphasized that Ducati still had a lot of work to do before it could be satisfied.
"The riders ahead certainly still have some margin, so tomorrow, in addition to choosing which tyre to use in the race, we'll have to try to improve a bit ourselves as well," he said. "At the moment, the soft is performing better, but we'll see."
The seven-time MotoGP champion is the only works Ducati rider in the field in the Czech Republic as his team-mate Nicky Hayden is still recovering from injuries sustained at Indianapolis last weekend.