Valentino Rossi overcame team-mate and title rival Jorge Lorenzo by 0.050sec to claim pole position for Sunday's Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno - despite missing the final three minutes of the session after a fast accident.

Lorenzo, who starts round eleven 25 points behind Rossi, had been fastest in both practice sessions leading up to qualifying, when he once again spent large parts of the hour on top of the timesheets.

Rossi then put his #46 Fiat Yamaha narrowly ahead with nine minutes to go, setting a new lap record in the process. But when Rossi returned to defend his fifth pole of the year - and third in a row - he lost the front of his M1 on entry to the fast downhill right hander leading into the stadium section.

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The 30-year-old Italian slid to a halt unharmed, but his Yamaha flipped several times in the gravel before coming to rest against the tyre wall.

That should have handed Lorenzo a perfect opportunity to snatch pole back, but the Spaniard was forced to thread his way through traffic on his final lap - including a close moment with Mika Kallio out of the final turn - and couldn't improve.

Completing Sunday's front row will be Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa, who improved from almost one-second behind Lorenzo on Friday to 0.383sec from pole in qualifying.

Toni Elias responded to this morning's news that he (like team-mate Alex de Angelis) will leave Gresini Honda at the end of the season, to make way for Marco Simoncelli and Marco Melandri, by claiming a strong fourth on the grid at a track where he finished second to Rossi last season.

Fifth place went to Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards, with Pedrosa's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso the final rider within one second of pole.

A 0.667sec gap separated Dovizioso from de Angelis, while Nicky Hayden responded to the pressure provided by new team-mate Mika Kallio by being the top Ducati rider in eighth place.

Kallio, placed at the factory team for three races while Casey Stoner recovers fitness, had been an impressive seventh on Friday and then eighth this morning. The Finn continued to lead the Desmosedici challenge for the first half of qualifying, but then made his first mistake of the weekend by losing the front of his GP9 with eight minutes remaining.

It was a fast accident, which sent Kallio's Ducati cartwheeling through the gravel before coming to rest on top of a tyre wall, but the #36 was unharmed and later rejoined the session on his spare bike. The MotoGP rookie will start tenth on the grid.

Loris Capirossi continued to lead the Suzuki challenge and finished between the factory Ducati riders in ninth, with team-mate Chris Vermeulen eleventh.

Rookie Niccolo Canepa enjoyed his best qualifying of the season so far with twelfth for Pramac Ducati, with Randy de Puniet nursing his recently fractured ankle on his way to 13th for LCR Honda.

James Toseland faced further disappointment with 14th for Tech 3 Yamaha, while Melandri will start just 15th for Hayate.

2009 WSBK race winner Michel Fabrizio, sitting in for Kallio at the Pramac team this weekend, improved from 17th and last on Friday to 16th (ahead of Gabor Talmacsi) in final practice, a position he repeated in qualifying.

Scot Honda rider Talmacsi was just 0.069sec slower than the Italian and will be desperate to please the thousands of Hungarian fans with at least a points finish on Sunday.

Brno marks the start of new engine regulations, which allow a maximum of five engines changes to be made by each rider during the final seven rounds of this season. Extra engine changes are punishable by a ten point penalty.

In 2010, the rules will demand further increases in engine life with each rider being limited to six engines for the whole 18-race series.

A test session takes place at Brno on Monday before round twelve of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship is held at Indianapolis on August 28-30.

Qualifying:

1. Rossi
2. Lorenzo
3. Pedrosa
4. Elias
5. Edwards
6. Dovizioso
7. de Angelis
8. Hayden
9. Capirossi
10. Kallio
11. Vermeulen
12. Canepa
13. de Puniet
14. Toseland
15. Melandri
16. Fabrizio
17. Talmacsi