Though he accepts it isn't as positive as a race result, Sylvain Guintoli says a front row start in Sepang nonetheless represents a big morale boost for the flagging PATA Honda team.

The defending champion - who scored a brace of second place finishes in Sepang last year - raised eyebrows with a run to third position in qualifying aboard the CBR1000RR, against the grain of its form so far this season.

Indeed, with only a pair of podiums to its name in 2015, the Japanese firm runs a risk of failing to score a win in a WSBK season for the first time since 2003 when there was no factory involvement, but Guintoli feels this front row is a welcome step in the right direction for the manufacturer.

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"It feels like we've found some outright pace, especially on new tyres, and we've also been able to compensate a little for a lack of speed that we've suffered from here. The qualifying tyre made a big difference for me but there's more to it than that technical stuff, which can get a bit boring sometimes!

"For us, even though it's not a race, it's good to have a result like this because we can't hide the fact that this season has not been what any of us expected. It's nice to have a result from all the hard work that everyone and Honda and Ten Kate is putting into this programme.

"This result feels good mainly because of all that hard work. We've done the homework for the race too, but it's a difficult call. The tyre performance in the races dropped a lot last year and it will again tomorrow. The race will be decided by who is riding best on the used tyres in the hot conditions, so it'll be a very different exercise tomorrow. We'll take the front row for now, but we know that tomorrow will be a different story."