Ben Spies said his front-row start for the Australian Grand Prix came as a total surprise as he did not even manage to put a proper qualifying run together.
The time that earned the Tech 3 Yamaha rider third on the grid at Phillip Island was set at the end of his race simulation in the middle of the hour-long session, and he then held on to the place despite failing to improve when he switched to qualifying trim.
As the late-session drizzle arrived, Spies decided to sit out the final 10 minutes and see what happened, and was pleased to still find himself on the front row.
"It went better than expected, for sure," said Spies. "We went out and did some laps and tried to work on the bike a little bit, and turned our quickest lap at the end of our kind of 'race run.' Then we came in to start putting on the tyres and trying to go faster in the last 25 minutes, and we just had a little bit of bad luck. Every time we were pulling out of the pits and warming the tires up, there were no drops or anything. Then every time I went into Turn 1 and was on a decent lap, it then started spitting [with rain]. Just couldn't quite time it right at the end. In the last 10 minutes we called it quits as we just couldn't get a lap in.
"I'm happy that it put us on the front row – and surprised and happy. It's going to be a tough race, these conditions are really hard."
The result is the third time in his rookie season that Spies has qualified on the front row. He took a pole and victory at Phillip Island on his World Superbike debut last year.