Alvaro Bautista timed his run to perfection as a late rain shower handed him his first pole position in MotoGP at Silverstone. The Spaniard sneaked in front of Ben Spies with just under twenty minutes remaining and just as his rivals were gearing up for a pole position attempt, the rain started to fall, handing San Carlo Honda Gresini their first pole since Marco Simoncelli at Assen twelve months ago.
It was a feel-good moment for the Italian team but the home supporters needed some cheering up after disaster struck Cal Crutchlow for the second year in succession. The Briton fell in morning practice at Chapel and suffered a sprained ankle, ruling him out of qualifying with his participation in the race also in doubt.
Jorge Lorenzo was on top early in the session but at the halfway point, Ben Spies outpaced his teammate to grab provisional pole. Casey Stoner closed to within 0.014s of the American to go second fastest but hadn't gone for a flat-out qualifying lap yet. As it turned out, he wouldn't get chance.
Inside the last twenty minutes, Bautista was the first man to stake a claim for pole and went a tenth quicker than Spies. Nicky Hayden was another man who looked to have a short but the no.69 crashed heavily at Vale with pole a real possibility. The crash was a carbon copy of teammate Valentino Rossi's fall earlier in the session and the Italian will line up a disappointing tenth, three places behind Hayden.
The rain eight minutes from time effectively brought the session to close with Spies left to rue the timing of the shower. He'd been on a possible pole lap when the drizzle forced him off track at Maggots. Despite that, he'll line up a season's-best second ahead of Stoner with Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa lurking dangerously in fourth and fifth.
Hector Barbera's lap early in the qualifying hour was good enough for sixth ahead of Hayden with Andrea Dovizioso an unhappy eighth on the sole Tech 3 Yamaha. Stefan Bradl and Valentino Rossi round out the top ten with Aleix Espargaro the leading CRT rider in eleventh. In Crutchlow's absence, James Ellison was the only British rider for the home crowd to cheer for and he took the Paul Bird ART to seventeenth.