Carlos Checa kept himself on course to seal the 2011 World Superbike Championship at Magny-Cours by qualifying a solid third on the grid.
The Althea Ducati rider merely needs to get to the finish of the first race in France to be assured of his maiden WSBK title, though even then it would require Marco Melandri to win the race from eighth to keep things open any longer.
Still, Checa did make it uncharacteristically difficult for himself in Superpole, coming under pressure in both SP1 and SP2 before putting in a typically strong lap when it mattered to seal a position on the front row.
Though Checa admits he has his eye on the prize ahead of the races, he insists both he and the Althea team will remain professional until the title is theirs.
“We thought that we'd be able to fight for a position on the front row and we managed to do that today. We had a few problems between the first and second Superpole phases but my technicians worked extremely hard to resolve these and we took a great result in the end.
“We made a big step forward at Imola in terms of points but we've come here to work as we do each work, giving it our all in each session and each race. There's a great atmosphere in the garage but my team is as professional as ever.
“We are enjoying the moment of course but tomorrow we will do everything that we normally do, as well as we can. There should be good weather and lots of fans and so I want to enjoy myself and make two great races – it will surely be an unforgettable day.”