Dani Pedrosa upset qualifying favourite Jorge Lorenzo to take pole position for the Italian Grand Prix as Hector Barbera put in a stunning performance to qualify third. As a result, three different manufacturers will be represented on the front of the grid tomorrow, but just one nationality, as Spain locked out the front row for the first time in MotoGP history.
Qualifying was shaping up to be a straight fight between Lorenzo and Pedrosa, with the two finishing neck-and-neck in final practice, and it was the Yamaha man who set the initial pace on a 1:47.834. Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow got their Tech 3 machines up to speed midway through to muscle themselves onto the front row but the British rider damaged his front row chances with a crash at Correntaio, something Ben Spies had also done minutes earlier.
While Crutchlow was falling off his motorcycle, Dani Pedrosa was getting his around very quickly and took provisional pole on a 1:47.648. His time at the top was all-too short though as Lorenzo lowered the benchmark to a 1:47.423.
The home supporters weren't getting much to cheer for from the Ducatis so far but Nicky Hayden changed that with the third fastest time. With four minutes to go though, he was knocked off the front row, incredibly, by a satellite Ducati as Hector Barbera clocked a 1:47.545. The Pramac rider hadn't pulled his usual trick of using a slipstream either, making his performance all the more impressive.
With three minutes to go, Pedrosa bounced back to the top but Lorenzo was setting personal best sectors behind. The no.99 exited the final corner and inexplicably ducked into the pitlane, bringing his session and bid for pole to an end with 40 seconds remaining. A furious Jorge later revealed he was suffering from a technical problem with his YZR-M1. Subsequently, Pedrosa was left unchallenged on pole position with Lorenzo and Barbera completing the front row.
Nicky Hayden will head the second row on the first factory Ducati with Casey Stoner next up in fifth. The reigning champion has struggled for pace all weekend and languished down in seventh for a lot of the session, only to salvage fifth with a minute to go. Cal Crutchlow also rescued his session in the dying seconds to grab sixth, knocking teammate Andrea Dovizioso off the second row.
Stefan Bradl qualified eighth for LCR Honda while Ben Spies paid for his crash, tumbling to ninth. Valentino Rossi will start tenth of the second factory Ducati with Alvaro Bautista the slowest prototype rider ahead of Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet on the Aspar CRT machines. James Ellison will line up in sixteenth on the Paul Bird ART.