Dani Pedrosa's dominance of the Malaysian Grand Prix continued as the Spaniard claimed pole position although his Repsol Honda teammates made him work hard for it. Pedrosa had topped the timesheets in all three practice sessions leading into qualifying but his half second advantage from earlier in the weekend wasn't evident this afternoon.
The entire session saw pole position switch between the Repsol trio with Andrea Dovizioso leading at the halfway stage, clocking a 2:02.088 on a long run. Pedrosa was close behind in second but had a slight worry 12 minutes in when he lost the front end of his RC212V entering the final corner. The bike and the rider were both undamaged though and he returned to the pits untroubled.
Pedrosa ventured out for his first qualifying attempt with 25 minutes to go and took over at the top, setting a 2:01.938, but Dovizioso had an answer for him and retook provisional pole on 2:01.793.
After a surprisingly quiet weekend, Casey Stoner finally came to life with ten minutes remaining and a 2:01.732 was enough for him to sneak in front of Dovizioso. Pedrosa now found himself on the outside of the front row but restored order with four minutes to go, pulling out a quarter of a second over his teammates.
Stoner reeled off a succession of personal best laps in the closing stages but couldn't quite overhaul Pedrosa, finishing 0.029s behind while Dovizioso closed to within two tenths of the polesitter but still couldn't improve on third.
Away from the in-house Honda battle, Colin Edwards was the stand-out performer as the American took the Tech 3 Yamaha to fourth place, outpacing the fourth factory Honda of Marco Simoncelli and achieving his best qualifying result since the final race of 2008.
Nicky Hayden led the Ducati challenge in eighth while Hiroshi Aoyama continued his strong weekend, qualifying seventh on the second Gresini Honda. Alvaro Bautista took eighth for Rizla Suzuki on a difficult day for the team with Valentino Rossi completing the third row on the second factory Ducati. The Italian had a low speed crash at turn nine with 15 minutes to go but managed to salvage a result on the spare GP11.1.
Cal Crutchlow qualified an excellent tenth on the second Tech 3 Yamaha but the factory squad had a miserable day. Ben Spies crashed late on as his rib injury continued to leave him in agony and his participation in tomorrow's race must be in some doubt. If he does start, the American will line up 16th with MotoGP debutant Katsuyuki Nakasuga 17th. One man who definitely won't start is John Hopkins after the luckless Suzuki rider suffered complications with the broken finger sustained earlier in the year.