MotoGP rookie Marco Simoncelli not only claimed his best qualifying position in the premier-class, with fourth on the grid at Phillip Island, but was also the top Honda rider.

The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider, who lapped just 0.016sec behind fellow rookie Ben spies and a front row start, will now aim to beat his previous best MotoGP finish of sixth.

"I am really happy because we have qualified on the third row for the last few races but today I managed it and with a little bit more I could have been on the front row!" said Simoncelli.

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"I'm really pleased with this although being honest I have to admit that Spies is probably a bit faster. We have made a good step this morning though and now all we have to do is look ahead to the race.

"The wind was a bit of a problem today, especially when I was on my fast lap. I was behind Stoner at that point and I honestly cannot understand how he manages to go so fast!" he confessed.

Spies will claim the MotoGP Rookie of the Year title tomorrow unless Simoncelli scores ten points more than him.

The next best Honda rider after Simoncelli in qualifying was Randy de Puniet in seventh, with the top factory rider Andrea Dovizioso, in ninth.

Simoncelli's team,-mate Marco Melandri, a former Phillip Island MotoGP winner, was a downbeat tenth.

"Another terrible day. We're working hard without a minimal sign of improvement. We have so many problems, to be honest I can't wait for the season to finish," he stated.

Melandri is moving to WSBK with Yamaha next season.