MotoGP title leader Casey Stoner was in a class of his own during Saturday's qualifying session for the Indianapolis Grand Prix.

The Repsol Honda rider was rarely less than half-a-second clear of the field as he lowered the fastest ever MotoGP lap around the Brickyard on several occasions.

The big time gains seen in free practice on the new asphalt - laid between turns 5 to 16 - were reduced slightly in qualifying, suggesting grip levels have begun to stabilise, but Stoner was still able to beat his own record-breaking morning time by 0.688sec.

The Australian finished 0.523sec clear of the field on a day when only two riders were able to lap within one-second of the 2007 world champion.

For the third session in succession, home star Ben Spies provided Stoner's nearest opposition. The Factory Yamaha rider, last year's pole sitter, seemed to have a problem with his seat at the end of the session, but finished 0.256sec ahead of team-mate and reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo.

For Lorenzo, Stoner's nearest title rival, a front row start marked a clear improvement over his practice form, but the gap to Stoner remains daunting.

Lorenzo's rise came at the expense of Stoner's team-mate Dani Pedrosa. Last year's winner will start fourth, just ahead of team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, with Colin Edwards continuing a strong weekend by qualifying sixth, as the leading satellite rider, for his home race.

Gresini Honda's Marco Simoncelli will have hoped for more than seventh, while Nicky Hayden, who will race the GP11.1 for the first time on Sunday, was top Ducati but the last of the Americans in eighth (+1.394sec).

Team-mate Valentino Rossi had a miserable afternoon. The seven-time world champion suffered a lowside fall early in the hour, leaving him 17th and last for large parts of the session and he could only manage 14th (+2.125sec) by the time the flag was waved.

Alvaro Bautista qualified ninth for Suzuki, with Hector Barbera tenth for Aspar Ducati. Rookie Cal Crutchlow will start his first ever race at Indy from eleventh for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, having run off track while trying to pass a Pramac Ducati in the closing stages.


1. Stoner
2. Spies
3. Lorenzo
4. Pedrosa
5. Dovizioso
6. Edwards
7. Simoncelli
8. Hayden
9. Bautista
10. Barbera
11. Crutchlow
12. de Puniet
13. Aoyama
14. Rossi
15. Elias
16. Abraham
17. Capirossi