Valentino Rossi was quietly satisfied with the performance of the Ducati on the first day of practice at the Czech Republic Grand Prix.

The Italian squad looked set for another miserable day after a poor showing in the first session and a slow start to the second, but Rossi delivered a superb lap to climb up to seventh, within range of the slowest works Honda and Yamaha bikes.

Speaking after FP2, Rossi was encouraged to see the gap closing to the frontrunners and is interested to see if they can make further progress with the GP11.1 tomorrow.

“Today we started better than we had at recent races. Although I'm seventh, our time isn't bad, and Spies and Dovizioso are ahead but close. This is positive, but the really important thing will be whether we can continue improving like this tomorrow as well, cutting more tenths from my time, session by session. Today I went pretty well on the second part of the track, while I lost time in T1 and T2, so we have to try to work on those sections. We had a hard time at the start of this afternoon's session, because the hard tyre, which we thought we could work well for the race, was really sliding a lot. When we put on the soft, the situation improved, also because we made some additional changes with the front that helped us improve the feeling. We hope to be able to do the race with the soft, and tomorrow we'll try to do enough laps to verify that as well.”

Teammate Nicky Hayden struggled by comparison, finishing eight tenths behind Rossi in 14th but the American is hopeful of bouncing back tomorrow for qualifying.

“It was a frustrating day, really. You have two weeks off, and you work hard and do all the little things that will help you when you come back. Then to have your first day back be probably your worst day of the year is pretty frustrating. The main thing is I don't have much grip from the rear, even on corner entry, and I'm spinning a lot on exit. There are a lot of long, fast corners here, and if you're slow there, you lose time. We tried a couple things to improve certain areas, but really we didn't find a big step forward. It was a pretty difficult day for me. I'm not happy with my performance, or with anything, so hopefully we can put this behind us tomorrow.”