The first ever MotoGP qualifying session featuring the new privateer Claiming Rule Teams saw class veteran Colin Edwards take 'pole' for Suter-BMW.
The Texan had been swapping top CRT honours with Aspar's Randy de Puniet during free practice, but got the better of the Aprilia rider by a comfortable 0.6sec after the Frenchman fell in qualifying.
“We were in such dire straits a couple of weeks ago with the chatter and some other issues, I'm just happy that we sorted that out," said Edwards, "We are heck of a lot better. Now we are in the realm of where we can push, make the bike a little bit better and for myself, understand what the limits are."
But the Forward Racing rider doesn't expect an easy start to his tenth grand prix season.
“I have yet to do race distance on this bike, it's not easy, it's a beast,” he warned. “To be honest it's a drag car that we are trying to turn into a F1 car. It's hard to ride, after four or five laps I get a little arm pump and it gets tiring.
“So tomorrow I've just got to get a good start, then relax, breath, not be so tense on the bike.”
Edwards was only 0.8sec behind former Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi, who will start twelfth and the slowest of the manufacturer bikes for Ducati, despite being 23km/h slower than the Italian in a straight line.
“Honestly speaking we did not expect to get so close to the factory bikes,” admitted crew chief Kornelis Veldeman. “We improved from yesterday, the team has been working really hard all weekend and we are just happy that we see the results.
“The target for the race is to have a good start and get ahead of the CRT riders and try to be in the top ten riders.”
Edwards lapped three-seconds from pole sitter Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) and three-seconds clear of the slowest CRT, James Ellison's PBM ART.