Casey Stoner says the Jerez qualifying result proves that this year's MotoGP title fight will not just be between him and Valentino Rossi.
The duo have dominated MotoGP for the past two seasons, but are only third and fourth on the grid for tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix - behind Motegi winner Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
Rossi said after the Japanese race that he expected the two Spaniards to make it a four-way battle in 2009, and Stoner agreed that the season would be much more open than many pundits had predicted.
"I've been saying all season - and all last season - don't count your chickens and don't make judgements about what's going to happen in the season without actually seeing it first," said the 2007 champion.
"So many people make judgements before the season starts that it's going to happen in one way, and as Jorge and Dani have proved things don't work out like everyone says they're going to.
"We're definitely excited for a good championship, and I hope that I can at least challenge for the championship a little bit later on in the season. We'll do the best job we can and we'll try to score as many points as we can."
The Australian admitted that Lorenzo and Pedrosa would be hard to beat in the race if the windy conditions seen in qualifying continued, as such weather makes it hard for the Ducati - with its large fairing - to be competitive.
"If it's these conditions for the race tomorrow then we'll have to make some adjustments to try and make the bike work a little better," said Stoner, who has never been on the podium at this event.
"Otherwise if it's not windy then we should be able to put up a race with these guys (Lorenzo and Pedrosa), which would be the first time we've done that at Jerez."