After sneaking under the radar during the weekend, Casey Stoner shot out of the pack in qualifying for the German Grand Prix to take pole position by a quarter of a second. The margins between the rides had been tiny all weekend but the Australian stretched clear of his rivals at the end of the one-hour session.
Dani Pedrosa showed his best form since returning from a broken collarbone. The Spaniard was second in morning practice and repeated the performance in the afternoon to secure a Repsol Honda 1-2.
Jorge Lorenzo had looked like the favourite heading into qualifying but was languishing down in fifth place as the session approached its' conclusion. The World Champion eventually scrambled onto the front row with his final lap of the session and will start third.
Another rider harbouring hopes of a pole position challenge was Marco Simoncelli who was looking to continue his six-race run of front row starts. With a quarter of an hour remaining, he matched Stoner's benchmark but as the times tumbled, the San Carlo Gresini rider was left behind and he will start from fourth.
Ben Spies and Andrea Dovizioso had typically quiet sessions on their way to fifth and sixth respectively but both were within half a second of pole position and will have their eyes on the podium tomorrow.
Behind the expected frontrunners the main headline was the performance, or lack of, from Valentino Rossi and Ducati. The nine-time World Champion suffered his worst qualifying of the year and will only have the returning Sylvain Guintoli behind him on the grid.
Nicky Hayden did at least manage to salvage eighth on the sister bike, just behind Colin Edwards, with Randy de Puniet getting onto the third row for the first time since Jerez. Alvaro Bautista had a promising session on the Rizla Suzuki, rising as high as seventh at one point, before dropping back to eventually round out the top ten.
Hector Barbera will start eleventh on a fourth row completed by Cal Crutchlow on the second Tech 3 Yamaha. The Briton was in the top ten going into the final ten minutes but his session was brought to an early end by a crash at turn six.
The third row will feature Karel Abraham, who also crashed late on, Toni Elias and Hiroshi Aoyama while Sylvain Guintoli will keep Rossi company on the back row.
|1||Casey Stoner||AUS||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:21.681|
|2||Dani Pedrosa||SPA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.252|
|3||Jorge Lorenzo||SPA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+0.263|
|4||Marco Simoncelli||ITA||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+0.273|
|5||Ben Spies||USA||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing||+0.375|
|6||Andrea Dovizioso||ITA||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+0.476|
|7||Colin Edwards||USA||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+0.687|
|8||Nicky Hayden||USA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+0.707|
|9||Randy de Puniet||FRA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+0.822|
|10||Alvaro Bautista||SPA||Suzuki||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||+0.923|
|11||Hector Barbera||SPA||Ducati||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||+0.995|
|12||Cal Crutchlow||GBR||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+0.995|
|13||Karel Abraham||CZE||Ducati||Cardion AB Motoracing||+1.483|
|14||Toni Elias||SPA||Honda||LCR Honda MotoGP||+1.520|
|15||Hiroshi Aoyama||JAP||Honda||San Carlo Honda Gresini||+1.567|
|16||Valentino Rossi||ITA||Ducati||Ducati Team||+1.639|
|17||Sylvain Guintoli||FRA||Ducati||Pramac Racing Team||+3.026|
|107% Time: 1:27.399|