Jorge Lorenzo might not have been surprised to lose pole position to Valentino Rossi in the closing minutes of Misano qualifying, having been narrowly beaten by the local hero in the two free practice sessions, but he probably didn't expect to be bumped to third by Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa.
Rossi and Lorenzo exchanged pole position seven times between the 7th and 59th minute of the qualifying hour, at which point Pedrosa made his surprise pole appearance.
Rossi then relegated the #3 on his final lap, but Lorenzo - the only rider in the top ten to set his best lap with softer compound tyres front and rear - was left in third place, at least continuing his perfect front-row record for the 2009 season.
Prior to the soft-tyre laps Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa all did long runs on the harder race tyre.
Rossi did 11 fast laps, with 9 in the 1min 35sec range; Lorenzo did 16 fast laps, also with 9 in the 1min 35sec while Pedrosa did two runs of 8 fast laps, with a total of just 4 laps in the 1min 35sec (the same as seventh on the grid Alex de Angelis) indicating another Rossi v Lorenzo showdown.
"I think the race is going to be quite painful in this heat and physical condition is going to be very important! It will be a long race but we are in good shape and I am looking forward to the challenge,” declared Lorenzo, winner last Sunday at Indianapolis and now 25 points behind Rossi in the title chase.
“Unfortunately I wasn't fast enough with the soft tyre right at the end, but we are still on the front row once again and this is the most important thing. My race pace is very good and I did some consistent runs, even though we still have some areas that we need to improve a bit because our setting isn't perfect yet. But I know that I can push tomorrow, even if it will be very hard,” he added.
"Of course we were looking for pole position and Jorge did a great job, the last lap was his fastest but unfortunately it wasn't quite fast enough to beat Valentino, who was very strong today,” admitted team manager Daniele Romagnoli. “Our race pace is good but we still need to make a few improvements to the setting, especially the front end as we have a bit of understeer. Now we will check the data and see what we can do to make sure we're able to put up a good fight."
Lorenzo finished second to Rossi as a MotoGP rookie at Misano last season.