Dani Pedrosa declared himself happy to have sealed third on the grid for tomorrow's San Marino Grand Prix, but admitted Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo still have the edge on him in terms of race pace.
Pedrosa, who was only 0.18s off team-mate Stoner's record-setting pole time, said starting from the front row was crucial given the tight, twisty opening corners of Misano.
With Yamaha's Ben Spies more than half a second in arrears in fourth, the Spaniard said the proximity of the top three was very positive but conceded that he needed to find changes to keep up with Stoner and Lorenzo in the race.
"I'm happy with the qualifying session," Pedrosa said. "We were working a lot on trying to find the right compound for tomorrow, but in the last couple of laps I was pushing to be on the front row.
"We've made it, which is very important here because the first corners are very tight. The times between the three of us are very close, so that's positive.
"For race pace, Casey and Jorge are still slightly faster than me, but we will look for something more on the settings tonight and try to be with them tomorrow for whole race".
Pedrosa is chasing his first win since the Sachsenring in July as he bids to overhaul fellow Honda works-rider Andrea Dovizioso for third in the points standings.