Casey Stoner looks on course to claim his third MotoGP race victory in a row, and fifth of the season, after taking a dominant pole position for Sunday's Valencia season finale.
The Ducati star has led all three track sessions so far this weekend, and expertly slid his Desmosedici GP9 to his third pole of the year by 0.263sec from Honda's Dani Pedrosa, with Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo completing the front row in third.
Stoner - who won from pole at Valencia last year - has finished second, first and first since his comeback from a three-round break to treat fatigue problems.
“We've been fastest in every session so far so we have to be pleased with that and the fact we were able to do most of the lap times we did on a race tyre today is a good sign,” said Stoner, who still has a slim chance stealing second in the 2009 championship, should he win and Lorenzo not score.
“I felt pretty comfortable out there but one of the softer rear tyres pushed the front that bit harder and it folded on me in four or five corners. It's a shame because potentially we could have gone that bit quicker but I can't complain.
“We're on pole position again, in good shape for the race tomorrow and looking forward to it. Hopefully the weather holds out because it would be nice for everybody to end the season with a good race.”
Team-mate Nicky Hayden will start from sixth, after making 'huge' changes to the bike since Friday.
“We have made a lot of progress from yesterday but we have had to work hard and make huge changes to the bike. I know it's not usually a good sign when you can't roll something competitive out on a Friday but that's what we're aiming for and for the moment my team are doing a great job in the time we have available,” he said.
“The bike was more much enjoyable to ride today and after being fifth this morning I was hoping for the same result this afternoon because that is my worst qualifying result here at Valencia. We'll take sixth though - it's not my best qualifying position but from where we started the year in Qatar I think I was last on the grid and in the hospital so to end it with a second-row start is pleasing.
“Tomorrow is going to be a tough one as always but we'll try to get a good start, make sure we don't get squeezed in down in turn one and have some fun. I'm looking forward to it.”