Casey Stoner is determined to turn his third pole in four races this year into a second victory of the MotoGP season at Le Mans.
The Australian looked like he might dominate the season following his commanding performances in winter testing and the Qatar season opener, but he was taken out by Valentino Rossi at Jerez and was only third at Estoril, leaving him third in the championship behind Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa at present. But having been fastest throughout practice and qualifying in France, Stoner hopes this will be the race that gets him back on top.
"We're very happy with this pole, we focused a lot on race setup this afternoon going from one bike to the another making small adjustments to improve the bike a little," he said. "The conditions aren't perfect at the moment, it's quite windy so hard to see if you've improved or not, but my Honda was working really well and I never found myself pushing to the limit too much which is always good.
"This is our third pole of the season but we've only converted one of them into a victory so we hope to have a little more luck this week here in Le Mans and fight for the win."
Andrea Dovizioso outqualified one of his Honda teammates for the first time this year as he beat Pedrosa to third. Dovizioso admitted that he had benefited from copying Gresini Honda rider Marco Simoncelli's style as the latter flew to another second place on the grid.
"I'm very happy to start from the first row, even though this was our target, I didn't expect it," said Dovizioso. "I was behind Simoncelli for two laps and this helped me because I followed his lines. This afternoon we did some small changes to the set-up and my feeling with the front improved.
"We arrive to the race very confident, I think we can fight for the podium. Tomorrow the race will be tough, Casey is very fast and he may try to run away, I have a good pace and I think I will fight with Simoncelli and Dani. I want to thank my team for all their hard work and hope we can get a good result tomorrow."
Estoril winner Pedrosa conceded he was still not content with his bike's performance after taking fourth on the grid.
"We improved quite a lot compared to yesterday, but we still feel lack of traction in the rear and good grip to have the tire working as we would like," he said. "At the beginning of this afternoon's session we managed to find a good rhythm with the soft tyre, but these are not qualifying tires anymore and in my last round of the session, with only five laps to push, I could not make the most of the tire."