Jorge Lorenzo has taken his third pole position of the 2009 MotoGP season after out-gunning Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi by just 0.013sec during a scorching hot qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Catalunya.
Lorenzo, riding with FC Barcelona colours on his Fiat Yamaha, had been fastest for most of the first 40 minutes of the hour - using the harder compound rear tyre that will be used in the race - before being demoted by Rossi, who then held pole right until the final minute.
It was only then that Lorenzo, previously seen berating countryman Sete Gibernau, found enough performance on the softer compound rear to return to pole by 0.221sec. But reigning world champion Rossi wasn't finished and, with his left leg dangling, was a fraction under Lorenzo towards the end of his final lap.
The Italian, who will start Sunday's race third in the championship behind Casey Stoner and Lorenzo, broke the timing beam just 0.013sec behind the Spaniard's best to record his first front row start since round two at Motegi.
Stoner will complete the front row for Ducati, 0.452sec from Lorenzo, with Andrea Dovizioso fourth for Repsol Honda. Dovi was 0.62sec slower than Lorenzo and the last rider to lap within one second of the #99.
Dovizioso's team-mate Dani Pedrosa, winner of last year's race, suffered another blow when he fell from his factory RC212V in the closing stages, just moments after rising from 14th to eighth.
The home hero, already struggling with a cracked thigh bone, ran wide through the gravel before falling roughly just before the tyre barrier. The #3 was carried away on a stretcher, but was fortunately seen walking unaided after a check-up at the Clinica Mobile.
Having a much better day was countryman Toni Elias who, perhaps spurred on by rumours that 250cc world champion Marco Simoncelli is being lined up for a Gresini Honda ride next year, claimed fifth on the grid.
Colin Edwards fell in the final five minutes but still claimed sixth for Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, with Randy de Puniet qualifying seventh for Honda LCR. One place behind Pedrosa was the second Tech 3 machine of James Toseland, with rookie Mika Kallio making a welcome return to the top ten for Pramac Ducati.