Valentino Rossi said he was encouraged by his pace in Friday practice for the Czech Grand Prix, although the Italian admitted it was too early to get too excited.
Rossi finished second practice in seventh position, 1.2sec off the pace of Honda's Dani Pedrosa, quickest in both sessions. Ducati rider Rossi said he was pleased with his speed, but conceded he and his team will need to raise their game for Saturday because all his rivals will go quicker.
"Today I'm quite happy. It is nothing incredible but at the end we improved our lap time quite a lot and also my position," said Rossi. "We lost time with the hard tire at the beginning of practice because we think the hard tire is a good tire for the race, but it was sliding too much, especially on the left. When he put the soft on I was faster and we increased the feeling at the front and I did three, four, five laps that were not so bad.
"I'm down in seventh position, but I'm not so far from the two or three guys in front. But it's just Friday. For sure the other guys will improve tomorrow and we need to improve in the same way and try to go faster to keep or improve the position."
Rossi, who has been struggling with the handling of his Ducati all season, insisted the Italian manufacturer is working hard on making its bike more rideable for all its racers.
"It looks like all the other riders have big problems this year," he said. "Now the gap is bigger, so like I say, the first target is to try to win races and championships, but also the second target is to try to make a bike that's suitable for all the riders. We are working this way, more than making the Ducati like the Yamaha."
He added: "This bike you have to ride it in a very different way, and I do it. But if you don't have the feeling at the front, it all becomes very difficult. I cannot push at 100 percent because I don't feel the front. It's all very difficult so we are trying to work on this. And also because my comments are the same as all the other Ducati riders. So it's like everybody wants the same to improve the performance."