Eugene Laverty was happy to learn more about his 'Open' class Honda machine at Jerez on Saturday after qualifying 17th but he recognises a long race lies ahead.

In his fourth ever MotoGP race, Laverty qualified 17th, a place ahead of team-mate Nicky Hayden and one behind 'Factory' Repsol runner Hiroshi Aoyama.

Although feeling positive about the Saturday afternoon session, Laverty remains concerned with the lack of rear grip in the hotter temperatures, believing his tyre will go off as soon as the third lap.

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"If conditions are cooler for a few laps it doesn't come at all," he said. "When conditions are hot, even on a new tyre, it affects me. It affects me for those first three laps and then afterwards it's a problem. The main thing for me is the race. 27 laps and probably 24 of those are difficult. That's not how I like to race.

"It was ok like yesterday but we're still just lacking rear grip, that's the main thing. The front was already really good and then after the crash we improved the front again. We keep improving in another area but the problems with the main grip remains. That's what's holding us back tomorrow. The Honda is a difficult bike. We've got to understand. It's a strange way the bike's sliding. I'm getting to know the bike more. We're learning more and more about it but we still can't quite put our finger on how to fix it."

When asked whether he would run the softer option Bridgestone rear tyre in the race, Laverty admitted he thinks it may be the better option.

"Well, we're leaning towards that," he said. "In the lefts the grip is the same but in the right we'll go for it and try and get stuck in."

Qualifying topped an abnormal day for the Northern Irishman after he collided with a bird in FP3 and then fell soon after. It was, he explained, something he had never experienced.

"I've been close to them and dodged them but that one almost took my head off. It just came right through the screen. A bizarre practice. After the crash and then that. An action packed 45 minutes.

"It was a big enough hit I suppose but we're Irish. We're made tough. It came through the screen. I wasn't on a fast lap anyway so it was lucky enough. I saw part of it wedged in beneath the screen. So I had to grab some of that stuff out because I wanted to have another lap.

"I crashed with too much of that [makes braking motion]. It was the first time crashing with the airbag suit. It's been a long time since I hit the dust. It had to happen at some stage."