Hiroshi Aoyama enjoyed a remarkable transformation in performance on Saturday at Qatar, rising from 17th and last in Friday practice to claim tenth on the grid - as the top rookie - for his first MotoGP race.
The Interwetten Honda rider qualified just 1.22sec behind pole sitter Casey Stoner and only 0.396sec behind the top RCV of fourth fastest Randy de Puniet.
“In free practice I was not satisfied, but I had a better feeling than yesterday, because of the changes we made with the set up,” said the reigning 250cc world champion. “The way we are on is definitely good and that I could qualify for tenth place today is more than I expected after the last two practice sessions.
“I don't know what the race will be like, because I never rode a MotoGP race before, but I am happy I finished my first MotoGP qualifying as the best rookie and in the Top 10.”
“Even though this result is great we have to stay calm as it still was just a practice," added team manager Daniel Epp. “But it is so much fun to end the first MotoGP qualifying in the top ten. The tests and the free practice sessions did not go well, but the team reacted fast and went in the right direction with the changes they made as we can see.”