British rider James Toseland scored his best qualifying result of 2009 with an impressive surge to the third row of the grid in Catalunya today.
But the 28-year-old was still frustrated as he came tantalisingly close to claiming a stunning fifth place on the second row on a baking hot afternoon near Barcelona.
Toseland’s best time of 1.43.233 on his 24th and last lap left him ninth on the grid for tomorrow’s 25-lap Catalunya clash.
But he was just 0.094s adrift of Spaniard Toni Elias in fifth place in a closely contested qualifying session that saw the top 17 riders split by just 1.818s.
Reflecting on what might have been, the double World Superbike champion said: “I can’t believe I’m saying this after the season I’ve had but I’m frustrated with my best qualifying result of the season.
"To finish under a tenth off fifth and be down in ninth is frustrating though, but at least I’m frustrated to be close to fifth and not fifteenth!
"At the start of the session I was out on used tyres and with the temperature being so hot it was quite difficult to find grip. But it was good to get information on the extra hard tyre in that heat for the race.
"On my last run I had a new front and rear, so it was difficult to get a good feeling straightaway with the front. In the last two corners on my last lap I had two big moments on the front and without doubt that cost me fifth.
"Going into the last two corners I’d have been fifth, but at least at that pace I feel really comfortable because I can do that time with a couple of issues. MotoGP is now so close that a tenth has cost me four places on the grid.
"It’s a shame that I’m not on the second row because the way I’m riding and the way the team is working, we deserve to be a bit higher up, but we’ve all done a great job today and I’ve got a good chance in the race tomorrow.
"It’s my best qualifying of the year, so hopefully I can capitalise on it.”