Ducati star Casey Stoner has warned that Saturday's impressive qualifying performance at Mugello, where he will start round four of the MotoGP season from third on the grid, does not mean he has turned a corner in his troubled season.
Stoner, the 2007 champion, languishes 14th in the points race after a disastrous start to 2010. He has switched to an older version of the Ducati's forks this weekend, but is adamant that more fundamentals need addressing to make the bike a contender.
"I'd love to say we've solved a lot of the issues, and everything was looking good for the race tomorrow, but we're far from it," he said. "To be competitive with Jorge [Lorenzo] and Dani [Pedrosa], we've got to drop six tenths minimum, more like eight. We've tried a lot of different things to get the bike to turn better, and I'm getting more feedback from using the old forks. But we need to get it to react over the bumps.
"We did a banzai lap and got lucky with it. We've got to be happy with starting on the front row. It's better starting from the front than anywhere else, but we've got to sit down with the team and come up with something better for the race. We're just not there on race pace yet."
Stoner's teammate Nicky Hayden, who will start fourth, concurred with his thoughts.
"I really had to dig deep and take a few chances because here on the Ducati I qualified at the back last year and I'd rather have crashed than do that again," said Hayden. "So we went for it and almost got on the front row. Considering how the weekend has gone, fourth is not a disaster – but we need to make it better."