Casey Stoner came within a few metres of his first pole position since the opening race of the season today when he caught Colin Edwards in the final two turns of a flying lap that was still only 0.024sec shy of top spot.

"We managed to put a good lap together there at the end but I got caught up behind Colin Edwards in the penultimate corner and lost some vital time," said the Ducati Marlboro star.

"I was a little bit disappointed not to get pole by such a small margin but maybe I should have attempted to pass him earlier and things might have been different. Having said that we have to be happy today - we're starting from the front row and I'm feeling good about tomorrow so we'll just have to wait and see what happens."

Meanwhile, Stoner's team-mate Nicky Hayden apologised to the team after qualifying a season's worst 15th.

"Yesterday we started out well and I did a 1'22.9, which would have been good enough for ninth on the grid today, but we lost our way a little and maybe went in the wrong direction with the setting. Not to make excuses I did encounter a little traffic on some good laps and my ideal time has me tenth with a 1'22.7 but the bottom line is I wasn't fast enough anyway.

"This is probably the last place where you want to qualify at the back so starting fifteenth is going to make it a long, tough race but a lot can happen in 30 laps. I need to get into a good early rhythm and just try to go forward. Yesterday we felt so positive and the feeling with the bike was so good, we were near the front, but this afternoon wasn't a good session and I know I have to do better.

"I apologise to the team because they deserve better than 15th and we'll look to put it right tomorrow."

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