San Carlo Honda Gresini's Marco Simoncelli missed out on a front row start in the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix by just 0.041sec during qualifying on Saturday night.

It was still a highly impressive performance by the factory HRC rider, who feels he can battle for a debut MotoGP podium on Sunday.

However, the Italian revealed he still has some issues with fuel consumption due to his size and weight.

"Today went well and I am happy because after the two sessions yesterday I didn't think fourth place would be possible," said Simoncelli. "We made a few small modifications this evening and found a better race setting, then on my qualifying lap I pushed really hard and only missed out on the front row by 0.041 seconds. It's a shame.

"I am still concerned about fuel consumption but we have some more changes to make before the race. Still, starting so close to the front is an advantage and the other bikes will be burning fuel too! The front two [Stoner and Pedrosa] are really strong and it's a closed shop between them but the rest of us have a battle on for a top position."

Team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama, riding a satellite spec bike, will start twelfth.

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