With his future set to be decided in the coming weeks Michael Laverty delivered one of the strongest qualifying performances of his MotoGP career ahead of tomorrow's San Marino Grand Prix.

The Irishman will line up 17th on the grid at Misano but was close to the pace of the Open Hondas during Qualifying 1.

Speaking after the session the Irishman was clearly pleased with his efforts o the PBM machine, but knows that challenging the Open Hondas during the race will be difficult:

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"It was really good and probably as close as we've been since Sachsenring," said Laverty. "Today being 2.2s off the pace with these two straights and what we lose in acceleration means that I'm pretty happy. It's been a positive day and we're not far off Leon, Aoyama and Abraham. I was ahead of Abraham until the dying seconds before he piped me so I think that we're in a good position for tomorrow.

"If we can get a good start and not lose a lot of time in the early laps I think that I can be good over the mid to late part of the race so we're in a good position. I'm hoping that they don't take a step in morning warm-up because we don't have a lot to find, bits of fine tuning, but if I can maintain a race pace of the 36's then I think that I can be in the battle with the Open Honda's."

Laverty found 1.2s compared to his time from last year's qualifying and having lost so much track time he was somewhat surprised to have immediately been able to get down to a fast pace during this morning's practice session:

"It's a good step forward compared to last year, at most tracks we're about a second faster but with so little track time it surprised me that in FP3 we went faster than we went in qualifying last year so it shows the work that we've done this year.

"I was surprised to be that bit closer to the Hondas because there's a long back straight but through the three fast rights I'm quite quick. We've a bit to improve because the bike isn't as nimble as the Honda in the first section so we lose a bit through there. Overall we're in a strong position."

The fight for the lower points positions looks set to be quite competitive with the Pramac Ducati of Yonny Hernandez looking to have an edge over the other Open class riders at the moment but the Open Honda's all seem to be evenly matched.

With Alex de Angelis behind him on the grid Laverty commented that the key for his race is to make a good start and not lose ground in the initial laps:

"I'm slightly quicker than de Angelis but he'll be in the group tomorrow with Camier and Abraham. I think that my tough section of the race is between laps two and five and if I don't lose too much time in those laps I think that we'll be good. On the early grip on the tyre we spin whereas they don't but after six or seven laps they start to spin more and we don't and stay at the same pace.

"I'll grit my teeth tomorrow in the early laps and I think that we could be in a position to fight. Points could be on the cards tomorrow and it would be nice to be fighting with them. This is as competitive as we've been this season."