NGM Forward Yamaha's Aleix Espargaro remains focused on improving his pace on the harder Open class tyre as the Spanish rider bids to fulfil his objective of a rostrum finish in 2014.

Espargaro equalled his qualifying result of fourth from the Austin MotoGP in Argentina during Q2 at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit using the special soft rubber available to Open class riders, missing out on a front row start by 0.143s to Dani Pedrosa with a time of 1m 38.794s.

However, he has outlined his objective of bettering his race pace with the harder compound tyre and believes a top five finish on Sunday is a realistic goal.

"We missed the front row by just a few tenths, like in Austin two weeks ago. But it's not the most important thing," said Espargaro. "They give the points out tomorrow on race day and this weekend we have a very good race pace.

"We've improved the bike with the hard rear tyre - this is the main thing. My objective is to try to finish on the podium this season and for that we need to work much better with the harder tyre.

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"I'm really happy and really focused to make a good start tomorrow and try to follow the top guys for as long as I can," he added. "I think it's possible to finish in the top five, which would be really good for us."

Espargaro, though, may find himself struggling towards the end of the race on the harder Open class tyre, which is the medium compound Bridgestone, while the Factory class Honda and Yamahas have the hard compound available.

Team-mate Colin Edwards, 14th fastest overall, said a new front end set-up has yielded 'very positive' results as the American rider improves 'step by step'.

"Today we tested a new set up on the front and the feeling has improved. I'm not struggling so much compared to Qatar or Texas so this is very positive. Step by step we are improving and I look forward to get a good result tomorrow," said Edwards.

"My congratulations to Aleix, who is doing an incredible job and to the whole team."