Jorge Lorenzo could become the first rider to beat Valentino Rossi at his home grand prix since 2001 if he converts pole position, and a peerless race pace, into his third victory of the season on Sunday.
The MotoGP World Championship leader has been faster than Fiat Yamaha team-mate Rossi in every session so far this weekend and took his second pole position of the year by just 0.021sec from Ducati's Casey Stoner, with Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi third while Rossi slipped back to fourth - despite leading much of the hour.
The reigning six time MotoGP champion was still only 0.161sec from pole, but Lorenzo also set 16 sub-1min 50sec laps this afternoon, compared with 13 by Rossi (see separate story).
A Lorenzo victory at Rossi's track would be a huge achievement for the 22-year-old, although the planting of his Lorenzo's Land flag (pictured last time out at Le Mans) might be seen as a declaration of war by Rossi and his supporters.
But first Lorenzo must win the race, something he failed to do last time he qualified on pole, during his own home race at Jerez.
“I'm really happy about this because it's a great pole position and I'm really excited to be starting from the front at Mugello,” said Lorenzo. “During the session we had some problems in T4 and we still need to try to improve a bit in that section, but I am fast with both types of tyre and in the end I was able to do one very fast lap.
“My race pace is good and I think that I have the possibility to fight with Valentino tomorrow; in my mind he is still the favourite here,” stated the #99. “My target is to get a good start and then try to stay with Valentino and Casey, and then I am sure I can be a part of the race. I am very excited and I hope for a great battle.”
“Our race setting is pretty good but we still need to improve our time a little in the final sector, which is where we were losing out today,” confirmed team manager Daniele Romagnoli. “Jorge did brilliantly with the softer tyre on the final run and this is a very important pole position for us. We hope this good weather continues because if it's like this then it's going to be a very exciting race.”