MotoGP rookie Marco Simoncelli claimed his first ever premier-class front row start with a well deserved third place in qualifying for the 2010 season finale at Valencia.

The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider, denied a podium just metres from the finish last Sunday at Estoril, has continued that momentum this weekend by being 4th, 4th, 4th and then 3rd in the track sessions in Spain.

The Italian now has one last chance to claim a rostrum in 2010.

"It has been a wonderful weekend so far, from the first session yesterday morning through to qualifying this afternoon," said Simoncelli, who also qualified as the top Honda and satellite rider.

"I was able to ride fast and consistent and I am delighted we were able to turn it into a front row start. I have unbelievable confidence with the bike just at the moment and that has been coming over the past few rounds.

"Right now I just hope I can stay in the same postcode as the leader tomorrow because it would be a really great end to the season for myself, Honda and the team."

"So far the final Grand Prix of the season has been fantastic because we have made incredible progress and secured a truly marvellous grid position," enthused team manager Fausto Gresini.

"I think this is the best way for us to finish the season and even though it will be a difficult race for us Simoncelli will be looking to be amongst the leaders, which has been the goal since the start of the season."

Ben Spies is the only other rookie to start on the front row this season and, so far, the only rookie or satellite rider to finish on the 2010 podium.

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