Hector Barbera will start a MotoGP grand prix from the front row of the grid for the first time in his career after stunning the opposition with a run to third aboard the Pramac Ducati.

The Spaniard, currently competing in his third season of MotoGP racing, had never qualified higher than sixth prior to the Italian Grand Prix weekend, but hinted at his pace by going fourth quickest in free practice on Friday.

Even so, few predicted that Barbera, who rides the GP12 'Zero' machine that preceded the current factory Ducati, would have the pace to not only get onto the front row, but out-qualify Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi.

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Indeed, Barbera himself was surprised to find himself at the lofty end of the grid and is now looking forward to starting a race with no other rider directly ahead of him.

"If yesterday somebody told me that I could start from the front row, I would not have believed it. But today I'm on the first row and tomorrow I will start Pramac Racing's home race from an amazing third spot on the grid. It's like a dream.

"I had to say thanks to my crew, who worked tirelessly during every session, understanding how to work with our Ducati machine.

"But there is another important point: I really enjoyed riding my bike and these kinds of sensations allowed me to have a more consistent and faster pace. Tomorrow I will try to have a good start and fight for the whole race with the front guys."