Toni Elias battled to eleventh on the Le Mans grid for San Carlo Honda Gresini, after recent surgery left him with 'no strength' in his right forearm.
Elias underwent surgery for compartmental syndrome (arm pump) on the Monday following the last race at Jerez and is not expecting to reach full fitness until the team's home race at Mugello in a fortnight.
“I'm really suffering here because I have no strength at all in my arm and no matter how much I try I simply can't push the bike any harder,” said the Spaniard, who has 30 stitches in his forearm. “I've been trying to get behind other riders for a tow and it helps but it's so hard.
“This morning was particularly bad but we were at least able to improve the bike in the afternoon and the lap times came down significantly. I was able to hold my position from yesterday and I'm pleased with that. I'm doing everything I can, so are the team, and tomorrow we'll just try to get through the race and pick up as many points as we can.”
Team-mate Alex de Angelis qualified just 16th fastest and will gamble on a radical set-up change for Sunday's race.
“We're looking at the telemetry now, we can clearly see where the problems are and we have a radical idea to try tomorrow that we hope works,” said the San Marinese. “It is going to be difficult starting from so far back but we don't have much to lose by taking a big gamble on the setting so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.”
“I only have two things to say about today's qualifying session,” stated team manager Fausto Gresini. “Firstly, Toni put in an extraordinary performance considering his physical condition. Secondly, we need to analyse Alex's data and feedback in depth because this position is not normal for him and not acceptable for this team.”