It has been a major sticking point for him all season, but Fonsi Nieto may well have had the Superpole breakthrough he needs after very nearly snatching the top spot in qualifying at Magny-Cours.

The Spaniard has struggled greatly with his pace over a single-lap this season and, despite often racing well, he has more often than not been forced to do it from the third row back at least.

Nonetheless, around the circuit he scored a sole podium for Kawasaki in 2007, Nieto was on fine form, his single lap aboard the Suzuki almost breaking James Toseland's lap record.

As it happens, Noriyuki Haga would go just a tenth quicker to steal the limelight, but Nieto was nonetheless delighted to be on the front row of the grid as the best of the Suzuki trio for once.

"Superpole is not normally my best thing, so I am really happy to finish second in it today," he mused. "Now I am going to be in a good position to challenge for the podium right from the start. We tried quite a few different set-ups and tyres today, as we also did a race distance and I think we have a good set-up on one of the bikes.

"We also did some work on the gearing and the mapping and now I am looking forward to the races tomorrow. I like this track and I feel confident that I will have a good day tomorrow."

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