Andrea Dovizioso may be halfway through his third MotoGP season, and has six podium finishes to his name - including one race win - but until Saturday at Laguna Seca he had never qualified on the front row of the grid.
That all changed when the Repsol Honda rider, who starts round nine of the championship holding third in the points, edged out team-mate Dani Pedrosa by just 0.038sec to claim third on the grid for the 2010 US Grand Prix.
“I'm very happy about this session because this is my first front row of the season and qualifying was an area that we had to improve," began Dovi. " Yesterday and also today I have been losing some time in T4, but for the final qualifying lap I pushed at 100 per cent and did my best final sector time - which gave me my fastest lap time and a place on the front row.
"I have a good race pace but we still need to improve a little because Stoner and Lorenzo are very fast. There is still a gap but we are not too far away. I think the race pace tomorrow will be between the high 1m 21s and 1m 22 dead, and I'm confident I can fight with the others. Plus, starting from first row makes this easier.
"For the tyre choice we will probably go with the soft option rear. Our machine balance is good and we have a positive feeling on this track so I'm confident for tomorrow."
Dovizioso will be aiming to return to the podium, after a three race drought, in Sunday's race.
Team-mate and double 2010 race winner Dani Pedrosa will start from fourth, the same position he won last year's US GP from.
“This afternoon with the soft rear at the end of the session we didn't go quicker, but the front of the second row isn't a bad place to start and we could probably have been further forward if we hadn't had a bit of an issue with some chattering at the rear of the machine on my final run," said the Spaniard.
"We put a lot of laps on the Bridgestone tyres this afternoon - more than 30 on the same tyre - and they are working well. In the warm-up tomorrow we need to make a few final adjustments to the machine settings to improve our race pace by a tenth or two - we've got a few things to try.
"The choice of race tyre will be important so that we have the best feeling for race distance. I think we can be competitive if we make the most of the warm-up well tomorrow.”
Second in the championship Pedrosa starts round nine 47 points behind Lorenzo.