Colin Edwards expects to be able to fight at the front in tomorrow's French Grand Prix after qualifying on the outside of row two on his Tech 3 Yamaha.
The American has a strong record at Le Mans, having taken pole in 2007 and twice finished on the podium. While admitting that sixth on the grid was not as good as he had hoped for, Edwards said he was confident he would move forward in the race.
"I'm happy on one side because my race pace is really consistent and I'm as quick as the guys in front of me, so I expect to be challenging at the front in the race tomorrow," he said. "But part of me is a little bit disappointed that I wasn't higher up the grid having been close to the top pretty much throughout."
He blamed his discomfort with the soft Bridgestones for his qualifying position.
"I had a couple of small issues and I feel there was more time out there," said Edwards. "Basically I can only use the hard front tire. I can't get the soft one to work, but we have to keep two of the four hard compound tires for the race.
"So by the end of the session the front I like is past its best with a lot of laps on it. When you put in the softer rear tire to make a lap time at the end of the session, the best grip on the hard front has gone and it starts moving because you're pushing it too hard.
"Having said that, to be within three tenths of the fast guys I'm not complaining too much. And when we start the race tomorrow with the grip of the front and rear at the same level, we're not going to have a problem. I got a podium last year for Tech 3 in its home race, so I'm definitely looking for a repeat of that."
Edwards' team-mate James Toseland was only 12th fastest, but felt he had got closer to returning to form.
"I felt much happier today and the team gave me a great bike," he said. "I'm sorry to my guys really for not being a bit further up the grid, but we're so close to being on the edge of the top six and I feel I'm making the progress I've been looking for. Sadly the final position is not great again and that is something that has hampered me this season. I'm not far off the group in front at all but starting further down makes it tough to pick them off when we're all doing similar lap times.
"I really feel though that I'm getting close and today I started to enjoy riding and not thinking about always struggling."