Valentino Rossi will start from the front row of a MotoGP grid for the first time since 2010 after qualifying third for the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.

The Italian, who returned to the top step of the podium for the first time in three years last time out at Assen, took full advantage of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa's absence to get himself in close contention for a first pole position since the 2010 French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

Though he would go on to fall a tenth short of eventual pole sitter Marc Marquez, as well as fellow Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow, Rossi was delighted to be back on the front row after a long absence.

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Better still, Rossi says he is feeling confident on the Yamaha YZR-M1, even if he admits the 'hard' second-half of the race could prove critical for himself and key rival Marc Marquez.

"I'm very happy, from one side not a lot because the first position was very close but the target was to come back to the front row and I was able to," he said. "I was able to do it in a good way because I did a good lap riding well and also my gap to pole position is very close which is very important.

"I feel good with the bike, I have a good setting and I have quite a good pace also. Now we have to put everything together for tomorrow and try to slide the rear a bit less. I am a bit worried about the second part of the race; that will be very hard for everybody.

"If we want to stay with Marc we have to make a small improvement for tomorrow. Anyway, I am so happy, the last front row for me was in 2010, a long, long time ago. Tomorrow it will be a strange feeling to have nobody in front!"