Noriyuki Haga admits he is merely happy to be starting considerably higher than he managed in Australia after qualifying a much improved fourth in Qatar.

Although overshadowed by the raw pace of fellow Phillip Island race winner Ben Spies, Haga's front row grid slot still comes after a troubled weekend that has so far seen him classified outside the top ten.

Nonetheless, while he looked on the verge of missing the Q3 cut for the second race in succession, a strong final lap in Q2 put him back into contention, before following that up with the fourth best time in the shootout.

Three seconds better than he had been managing during provisional qualifying, the early championship leader acknowledges the races are likely to be tough, but adds he would rather be tackling them from fourth than 13th.

"I am very happy to be on the front row of the grid tomorrow, a big improvement on my grid position in Phillip Island! We have had some problems today and yesterday with the rear grip but we think that we have found a way forward for tomorrow's races. Tomorrow will be tough, not just for me but for all of us, and so to be able start from the front row will of course be an advantage."

Ducati Xerox team-mate Michel Fabrizio, meanwhile, was left to rue the error of not entering the long home straight in the right gear, a mistake that dropped prevented him from making the most of his final lap.

"I unfortunately made a small error while making the fast lap in the second Superpole session. At the penultimate corner I was in the wrong gear, I should have been in second when I was instead in third and I know I lost a few tenths during that split as a result. Although I had time to make one further lap the tyre was already gone.

"I had at least hoped to get into the top eight but it was that mistake that cost me a place further forward on the grid. Anyway I will do my best tomorrow, as always, and hope that is enough."