Jorge Lorenzo will start his first race as MotoGP world champion from the outside of the front row, in third place, in Qatar on Sunday night.
The Factory Yamaha star feels that Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa are simply out of reach, and is therefore chasing the final podium position.
“We are still quite far behind the front, but our goal is to finish on the podium and that is in my mind for tomorrow,” said the Spaniard. “My race pace is pretty good; I think I can keep running 1'55.7s or maybe 1'55.8s. We will finalise our set-up in warm-up and try to achieve that tomorrow.”
Lorenzo lapped 0.8sec slower than pole man Stoner, and was 0.6sec from Pedrosa.
The #1 is likely to face pressure for third place from Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli (+0.851sec) and his own team-mate Ben Spies (+0.958sec).
“It wasn't a perfect session, I didn't nail a perfect lap time but you rarely do,” said Spies. “I don't think we were too far off the maximum, maybe there were two tenths left in the bike and that's it. It's not so bad though, we have a good package to battle for the podium tomorrow. I did the best I could so not a bad start to the year.”