Casey Stoner will Sunday's French MotoGP from the head of the second row, in fourth, after struggling to extract as much additional performance as his main rivals from the softer of the Bridgestone compounds.

Nevertheless, the Ducati Marlboro star feels confident for race day, when he will be aiming to claim his first podium of the season, after scoring just eleven points from the two rounds so far held.

"We have a lot of work to do to try and get more performance out of the softer tyre because our rivals seem to be able to make bigger improvements on it than us," said Stoner, who will start behind the Fiat Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, plus the Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa.

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"We didn't manage to lap much faster than the times we were doing on the harder race tyre so that is a little disappointing because it would have been nice to start from the front row here but at the same time we know we have a good pace over race distance.

"In general the bike is going really well, our race pace is more competitive than it was at this stage of the weekend in Jerez so I'm confident we can do a good job tomorrow," he added.

Team-mate Nicky Hayden, fourth in the first two rounds, will start alongside Stoner in fifth - marking the first time ever that Ducati has had both its riders qualify inside the top five at Le Mans.

"The second row for us is a positive result because to be honest my race pace hasn't been great and now we've given ourselves a chance because the start is so important here," said the American.

"We made a big step with the bike in the session this morning but weren't really able to follow it up with another one this afternoon so we have work to do tonight because at the moment it's looking like a really tough race for us.

"At least the weather is fantastic - I don't think I've ever seen so many fans here and they deserve it because they've had to put up with a lot of rain over the years! Tomorrow they might be leaving with sunburn but they won't be complaining."