Casey Stoner says his Ducati is more competitive than today's practice times at Assen suggest, as he was held up on a lap that could have put him at the top of the pile.
The former champion was third in opening practice, just 0.035 second behind shock pacesetter Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda).
Stoner had been up on de Puniet's time on the first two splits on his best lap, but then lost a little time further around the track.
"We tried a couple of things during the session but once we got onto the harder front tire it all clicked into place and we could have gone a lot faster," said Stoner. "But I got held up on a couple of laps and then on my last lap I pushed the front a bit too hard and ran wide. We still have some improvements to make but generally speaking it is very positive to start out on the pace -- especially at such a windy circuit, because usually we struggle in the wind."
The Australian felt that Ducati had made a big step forward at Catalunya two weeks ago, but that poor health had held him back in the race, where he finished third. Now back to full fitness, he reckons he can demonstrate the revised bike's actual potential at Assen.
"We've started off where we left off in Catalunya, which is a great sign," said Stoner. "Generally with this bike we've had to make a lot of changes from track to track and we usually have to spend the first session working really hard to adapt the setup, but on this occasion it feels good out of the box."
His teammate Nicky Hayden's frustrations continued as he ended the session down in 12th, a second slower than Stoner.
"We had some different ideas to try here with the electronics and we ran them at the beginning of the session but I didn't like them, so we went back to something similar to what we had in Barcelona, which enabled us to move up a bit," Hayden explained.
"The gap to the front is closer than it's been at other tracks but unfortunately a second around here is a lot of time and our position is not much of an improvement."