Honda LCR's Randy de Puniet produced a surprisingly strong performance in qualifying at Misano on Saturday to finish as the leading Honda rider, in fourth position.

The Frenchman had grabbed provisional pole with 23 minutes left to run, but then slipped back to the lower reaches of the top ten, before mounting an impressive counter attack in the closing seconds of the session.

"Today was a very good day for us," smiled Randy, currently just 16th in the world championship standings. "When I came out on qualifiers my pace was pretty fast but this qualifying session was very tough. I had a very good flying lap which moved us to the 4th position on the grid.

"This race will be very close and it's important to start from the first places in order to close the gap to the fastest riders. I feel happy because my machine is the first Honda on the grid behind three factory bikes and this means that my crew did some excellent work together with Michelin. I really want to thank everybody for their efforts," he added.

The next best Honda rider was Repsol's Dani Pedrosa, in sixth position.

"I am quite happy because we have improved my lap times and tomorrow I will start from the second row, in the same grid position as last year here," said the Spaniard, who was taken out by de Puniet at turn one.

"It will be important to make a good start because the first corner is very close to the grid and also quite tricky.

"I've improved my rhythm and this is really important to me because I am starting to go fast again. We worked a lot on the suspension today, the new fork gives me a positive feeling and it gives smoother performance during braking. I'm feeling very motivated but I still need some time to get back up to full speed," added the double 2008 race winner.