Dani Pedrosa shrugged off a scary high-speed fall midway through Saturday's qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix to steal third on the grid by just 0.001sec, on his penultimate lap with his spare Repsol Honda.

"I'm pleased to be on the front row because it's always good to have a clear track ahead of you at the start of the race - and especially since it came after I had quite a big crash," said Pedrosa after the session.

The Spaniard, who injured his knee at the start of last year's Phillip Island race, lost the front of his RC212V as soon as he tipped into the left hand second turn.

After initially sliding across the damp grass at high speed, Pedrosa was pitched into a series of rough rolls before coming to a halt remarkably unharmed.

"It was at high speed on the way into turn two so it's a relief that I wasn't injured and I was able go straight back out on track for the second half of the session," he explained.

"I'm not sure yet why I fell - I just touched the brake and boom! I was down. We'll take a look at the data and try to find out exactly what happened."

Although he went on to deny countryman Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) a place on the front row, Pedrosa was left a worrying 0.729sec behind pole sitter Casey Stoner (Ducati) - the rider he is battling for third in the championship.

However, Pedrosa had lapped 0.4sec faster in morning practice, when he had also been just 0.048sec behind Stoner and ahead of world champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who will start second on the grid.

"For tomorrow we'll work on finding a little something in terms of pace to allow us to compete for the win because the riders in front are going quickly," said the 2009 US GP winner. "It will be a long race tomorrow so we'll need to be fully concentrated - and of course it will be important to see what the weather does."

Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso will start from tenth, despite his best lap time being just 0.4s behind Pedrosa's front row position.

"During the first three quarters of the qualifying session we tried some different set-up solutions that didn't really give any improvements," admitted the Italian. "We were also using the hard option tyres that were proving too hard for the conditions so, when we switched to the soft tyres, we improved our rhythm and the lap times came down. I'm a little disappointed because we upped our pace, but not by enough and this means the grid position is not the best."

Dovizioso holds an eight point advantage over Colin Edwards for fifth in the championship. The Tech 3 Yamaha rider will start from fifth position.