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Gresini riders strong in qualifying.

Gresini Honda has a chance of scoring its third podium in as many starts after a strong qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix saw Toni Elias improve his Friday pace by 2.15sec to claim fourth on the grid, while team-mate Alex de Angelis set an impressive race pace on his way to seventh.

“I'm really pleased because nobody ever expects to improve by two seconds in one day. One second is quite easy, but two? It's amazing really but it shows what a great job the team have done,” said Toni, who took the team's first podium since 2007 at Brno.

“We still have a couple of things to work on and I'd like to take another step forward before the race to close the gap further on the three guys ahead of us, but for the moment I'm contented and excited about our chances tomorrow,” added the Spaniard, who finished third at Misano last year for Pramac Ducati.

de Angelis, the only Sammarinese rider in the field, may have qualified on the third row but his race pace earlier in the hour suggests he could be battling for his second successive podium, after finishing runner-up last Sunday at Indy.

“I started out the session well and we put a really good rhythm together on race tyres but for some reason we couldn't make an improvement on the softer tyre and that's a shame because even if we'd just found an extra tenth I'd have been on the second row,” said Alex.

“Anyway, the important thing is the race set-up and we're in good shape, so if I can get a good start tomorrow then we can look forward to another good race. I have a lot of fans here and a lot of support from everybody in San Marino so it would be great to give them all something to celebrate.”

Elias and de Angelis have already lost their Gresini seats for next season.



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