Casey Stoner took his qualifying dominance in 2011 to a whole new level at Valencia, beating Dani Pedrosa to pole position by a full second. Intermittent rain kept all the riders on their toes throughout but the conditions calmed down for the final ten minutes, prompting Stoner to set off on a blistering run.
The new World Champion already held pole before rain started to fall but his initial time of 1:33.018 was never going to be enough once conditions improved. Stoner re-joined the track to make sure with his first lap of 1:32.270 already three tenths under his old circuit record, but the next attempt resulted in an incredible 1:31.861.
Pedrosa ran just behind Stoner on the road but couldn't get anywhere near his teammate's time, only managing to produce a 1:32.875. Prior to that, the Spaniard was faced with the prospect of starting behind a Ducati after a stunning lap from Randy de Puniet lifted him up to second. The Frenchman lost the place when Pedrosa improved and Ben Spies relegated him to the second row moments later, a brave effort from the injury-hit Yamaha rider.
Despite missing out on a place on the front row, De Puniet still gave the Pramac squad their best grid position of the year while Alvaro Bautista showed the Suzuki GSV-R's pace in all conditions by taking fifth, 24 hours after setting the pace in wet practice.
Valentino Rossi, wearing a special crash helmet in tribute to his late friend Marco Simoncelli, put his Ducati GP11.1 on the second row for only the second time this season, finishing just under two tenths ahead of teammate Nicky Hayden who heads the third row.
Andrea Dovizioso will start eighth after a troublesome session which ended with a heavy fall when the front end of the Honda RC212V folding enough him as he pushed hard on his final lap. Hector Barbera qualified ninth on the spare Mapfre Aspar Ducati after an earlier engine problem while Karel Abraham sneaked in front of rookie of the year rival Cal Crutchlow to secure tenth.
Katsuyuki Nakasuga will start 15th on the second factory Yamaha although his session came to a slightly comical end when he ran down the escape road at turn seven. The Japanese rider then attempted to turn around but only succeeded in tipping the bike over and tumbling to the floor.