Casey Stoner says heavy traffic on his final two flying laps cost him the chance to seal a second straight MotoGP pole position at Le Mans.
The Australian had been top heading into the final two minutes of the session, only for works Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa to move three tenths clear and seal provisional pole.
Stoner was still out on circuit and had the benefit of fresh rubber, but said being held up by traffic had prevented him from taking full advantage and responding to Pedrosa's late effort.
"We're really happy to be on front row, but qualifying definitely didn't go to plan," the reigning champion said. "We felt we were fast enough to be on pole position but every time I was on a good lap or building up to one, I got held up.
"There was always someone in the way or a bunch of riders in the way waiting for someone or waiting for a tow. And then last two laps completely screwed me: I slowed down quite a lot to get clear laps -- I thought I gave a CRT rider maybe six seconds gap - but I caught him before the end of the lap and that ruined my start onto the next lap, and then I saw it was starting to rain so I backed out of it completely.
"The rain wasn't heavy enough to upset my lap and I could have continued it, but that's the way it goes sometimes."
Stoner elected not to head out at the start of qualifying when the track was at its wettest, but says he is confident about his race prospects whatever the weather.
"If you went out you just destroyed another set of wet tyres, so we opted to wait for the slicks to come in," Stoner explained. "I think we're looking good for the race, we're pretty comfortable in dry conditions but we still have warm up and a chance for the others to find something extra, so we're going to have to improve our bike a little also and wait for the race as the weather conditions are still unpredictable."