Dani Pedrosa took his first pole position of the 2011 MotoGP season after an exciting climax to qualifying at Brno in the Czech Republic on Saturday.
After Repsol Honda dominated practice sessions - Pedrosa in the dry on Friday and Casey Stoner in the wet on Saturday morning - a return to dry weather for qualifying saw momentum swing back in favour of Pedrosa.
The Spaniard, who has won two races this year but missed another three through injury, repeatedly exchanged pole with reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo in the closing stages, before finishing the session 0.113sec ahead of the Yamaha rider.
Stoner, fastest after the first half of the hour, will complete the front row in third, 0.269sec behind Pedrosa. Stoner is 20 points ahead of Lorenzo in the championship.
Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies will head row two after overcoming arm-numbness caused by a pinched nerve to run as high as second with a quarter of the session to go.
However the Assen winner was unable to improve in the closing stages and dropped 0.587sec from pole.
Spies will be joined on row two by Gresini Honda's Marco Simoncelli and Ducati's Valentino Rossi, who produced his best qualifying of the season to finish sixth, 0.776sec from pole.
Row three will consist of third Repsol rider Andrea Dovizioso, Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Coin Edwards and Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden. Simoncelli's team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama rounded out a top ten covered by 1.193sec.
Rookies Cal Crutchlow and local star Karel Abraham both crashed at the same corner in the closing stages, leaving them eleventh and 17th respectively.
Honda LCR's Toni Elias seemed to enjoy the newly-washed surface - pole was slower than Pedrosa had managed in Friday practice – to take twelfth on the grid, while Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista (14th) was the only non-Ducati in the final five places.
Bautista's wild-card team-mate John Hopkins has been forced to withdraw from the event after fracturing fingers in his right hand during Saturday morning practice.
15. de Puniet