Jonathan Rea showcased his potential as he qualified in seventh place for his second ever MotoGP race at Aragon today.
The 25-year-old Ulsterman, who will again replace the injured Casey Stoner in the Repsol Honda team, was just one second off the fastest lap set by title favourite Jorge Lorenzo on the official Yamaha YZR-M1.
Rea, who had been linked with the vacant Gresini Honda ride in MotoGP for 2013 before committing to Honda for another year in World Superbikes last weekend, capitalised on the knowledge he gained at Aragon during a two-day test three weeks ago.
He will start from row three ahead of the factory Ducati pairing of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden.
Rea said: “It was the first dry session of the weekend, I'm not sure what I've done to deserve this weather.
“Towards the end of the session we started to get going and find our rhythm, the lap time was ok and I see a few areas where I can improve, but we are closing the gap, now just a second from the pole time which I'm pleased with.
“In general I'm really happy with the bike and with the set up so hopefully tomorrow I can be closer to the front guys than I was in Misano,” he added.
“It looks like my last ride so I want to go out tomorrow and make every single lap count.”
Rea's bid to make the most of the track time available to him prior to his MotoGP race debut at Misano was blighted by poor weather on the opening day of practice.
He went on to finish in a respectable eighth position but faced a similar start to the weekend yesterday, when heavy rain left the Northern Irishman feeling frustrated as he continues to learn the handling quirks of the 1000cc prototype.
However, Rea gave a solid account of himself today as he sealed seventh place in the predominantly dry session and will bid to improve on his Misano result tomorrow in what could be his final outing on the RC213V this season, with Casey Stoner set to return at the Japanese Grand Prix on October 14.