Ben Spies was delighted to return to form with a front-row grid slot for the MotoGP finale at Valencia after missing two races through injury.
The Yamaha rider sustained concussion and rib damage when he crashed heavily in Phillip Island qualifying, ruling him out of the Australian Grand Prix, then exacerbated the discomfort with another crash in qualifying for the ultimately cancelled Sepang race, which Spies also sat out. He crashed again in Friday practice at Valencia, but bounced back to qualify third behind Honda's Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa today.
"It's really important," Spies said of his result. "It's been a tough month. I'm just happy to be up on the front row. I didn't think it was going to be possible after yesterday and the way things have been going."
The American admitted it was tough for everyone in MotoGP to focus on racing this weekend in the first event after the death of Marco Simoncelli at Sepang.
"It's the last race of the season and there are a lot of people dealing with a lot of different issues, so we're just trying to keep our heads clear and go quick," said Spies.
He added that the conditions had made the qualifying session particularly tough, with drizzle making the track treacherous throughout.
"Today's session wasn't the best for all the riders, it was really tricky," Spies said. "Congratulations to all the guys who did stay upright – it was a hard session.
"I'm just happy for Yamaha and we'll see what we can do tomorrow and put the best race that we can together and try to have a good end to the season."