Casey Stoner may have only taken one podium from his previous nine starts at Jerez, but he's favourite for victory on Sunday after claiming his second pole in as many attempts for Repsol Honda.
The 2007 world champion, winner of round one in Qatar, finished ahead of home stars Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo in qualifying on Saturday, despite finishing the session 'playing in the sand' after running off track.
Worryingly for the likes of Pedrosa and Lorenzo, the top two riders in last year's Jerez race, Stoner feels he took a wrong turn with set-up and will revert to a better configuration for Sunday's race.
“The weather conditions have been pretty tough this weekend. Morning session to afternoon session has been completely different with the wind picking up and it's making us push the front a little bit more than we'd like to,” he said of the hot and blustery afternoon.
“But it's the same for everybody. If it's like that again tomorrow the race will be in similar conditions, but this wind also has the chance of bringing in some rain. That's always a possibility.
“We've had a pretty good run this weekend. This morning I was really happy with the way the bike was working on used tyres. We did more than race distance and not too far off my fastest lap time with it.
“This afternoon we wanted to continue that, put a lot of laps on hard tyres, but every time we starting finding a bit more grip we were losing feeling in the front. Started pushing it. So we're trying to find a balance and even with the soft tyre we weren't really happy with the way the bike was working, so I think we'll come back to what we had this morning.
“After I did my best lap we went to the second set of tyres, they didn't quite feel as good, and I went on the brakes [for turn one] a little too hard. The rear came up and as I let off the brakes I just had way too much speed [to make the corner] so we ended up playing in the sand pit for a bit!” he smiled.
Pedrosa qualified just 0.158sec behind Stoner, but is expected to struggle with his left-arm problems during the 27-lap race.
Last year's winner Lorenzo, who finished between Stoner and Pedrosa in Qatar, could thus once again prove to be Stoner's biggest threat.
Lorenzo led much of qualifying, on race tyres, and only lost out on pole by 0.161sec with the softer tyres.