Marco Simoncelli is still targeting a podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix after qualifying third for the Phillip Island race.
The Italian endured a difficult time of things during the three practice sessions that preceded qualifying and crashed on three separate occasions at the MG hairpin. But the Gresini Honda rider found some form in qualifying and knocked Alvaro Bautista's Suzuki off the front row with a few minutes remaining to secure third spot. He now believes that a podium finish is an achievable aim for Sunday's race.
"Even this morning, with the wind conditions very different [from Friday], it was very difficult to get a good feeling on the bike," Simoncelli said. "I'm confident for tomorrow and I hope to finish the race on the podium.
"I'm happy to come back to the front row [for the first time in eight races] and I'm happy because after a good race in Motegi, I started quite well here on Friday and we've improved the bike practice by practice."
Should Simoncelli score four more points than Nicky Hayden at Phillip Island, he will move above the Ducati rider and into seventh place in the championship.