Andrea Dovizioso claimed Ducati's first front row start of the 2013 MotoGP season with a brilliant final lap in qualifying at Le Mans.
The Italian jumped from seventh to third, 0.4s from pole, and will line-up alongside Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo on Sunday's grid.
“I'm pleased with the work we've done over the weekend because we've been consistently fast and we have the pace to do a good race - maybe not to finish on the podium but we're much closer than we have been at other tracks,” said Dovi.
“I was surprised to do a 1:33.6, as I didn't think I'd be able to do that, but it was a beautiful feeling. Although I know it will be a difficult race, I still hope that it'll be dry tomorrow; those are the conditions that we've practiced in and we're pretty fast.
“Still, it shouldn't be a big problem even if it rains, as it seems that our GP13 works well in the wet and last year made a podium [with Valentino Rossi].”
Dovizioso and team-mate Nicky Hayden have both taken a best finish of seventh so far this year. Both are riding a lightly modified version of last year's Desmosedici, with 2013 development parts still in the pipeline.
While the stop-go nature of the Le Mans Bugatti layout seemed to work for Dovizioso, Hayden will start just tenth on grid.
“I thought we were on a good way, but in qualifying I didn't really put a good lap together. I did a decent lap in my first exit, but in the second one I couldn't get heat in the tyre. One second to the front isn't bad at other tracks, but our potential here was better,” he admitted.
“It's certainly frustrating to end up tenth on a day when things seemed to be going well, but we'll see what the weather does tomorrow. Hopefully we can recover in the race. Congratulations to Dovi and his guys, as they did a great job.”
Rossi finished on the podium for Ducati at the past two French GPs.