After the unexpected sight of Alex de Angelis and a satellite spec RC212V leading the Honda challenge on day one in Qatar, new factory Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso restored Repsol pride with a fine fourth position in qualifying.
The Italian moved his way forwards from eighth on Friday to sixth in Saturday free practice, before gaining another two positions in the 45-minute qualifying session.
“I'm very happy with this fourth position,” said Dovi, whose best lap was 0.691sec from Casey Stoner, but within 0.22sec of second on the grid Valentino Rossi. “We worked hard during qualifying, testing the two bikes with two different set-ups. Both solutions gave good feedback, I was confident, and the machine performance improved.
“I'm happy with the rhythm we found for the race with the hard tyres, and also the lap times we achieved with the soft tyre. I'm satisfied also because I had room for even more improvement during my last lap with soft tyre - in fact I made a mistake and I spoiled the improvement I'd made in T1.
“I think racing suits my style and mentality better than practice so I'm looking forward to tomorrow,” he declared.
“Andrea put in a great performance and pushed really hard this evening,” praised team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. “There are still some riders ahead of him but his lap time really displayed his fighting spirit. There are some technical areas with the machine that we have to improve, but Andrea showed that he can fight hard in tomorrow's race.”
Dovizioso finished fourth on his MotoGP debut at Qatar last season.
Injured team-mate Dani Pedrosa will start 14th.
"Well we've made it into the race and that was the aim of coming to Qatar so I'm pleased with that," said Dani. "I didn't expect to improve my lap time by this much from yesterday so this is good progress.
"The leg feels a little better and I pushed harder today than yesterday, though this situation is not something that is fixed after one day. My lap time is not really so bad considering my condition and the time I've spent away from the track, but for sure I wanted to be faster than this and a bit further forward on the grid.
"Still, the race is here we'll get ready to give it the maximum effort tomorrow. Maybe I can improve my lap times by a further second or so.”