Casey Stoner reckons he could have qualified on the front row for his MotoGP comeback in Japan but for a set-up miscue.
Although Stoner is still struggling with physical difficulties following his Indianapolis injury and subsequent surgery, he said the main reason for only qualifying seventh at Motegi was a handling problem.
"To be honest I thought we had a shot at the front row today," he said.
"On the first soft tyre we used, I achieved a pretty good time and I knew we had something extra in reserve, in both myself and the bike.
"We thought with the second soft tyre we would improve but unfortunately we went in the wrong direction with the bike and I had no rear grip, so I decided to play it safe and not push too hard."
He acknowledged that he remains a long way from full fitness and that this was also affecting his pace.
"Physically I'm a little sore but not so bad, I'm just struggling to lift the bike out of the right hand corners and it's making setting up the bike more difficult than it should be," said Stoner.
"My team can see that my lean angles are nowhere near what they usually are.
"I can't get my foot out of the way, therefore I can't lean the bike over enough or pick it up quickly on the exit of the corner."