MotoGP World Championship leader Casey Stoner has taken his ninth pole position of the 2011 season, despite a crash during qualifying at Aragon on Saturday.

The Repsol Honda rider, out of reach of all but team-mate Dani Pedrosa in morning practice, continued his flying form in the afternoon - when Pedrosa again offered the only serious opposition.

Stoner smashed the previous pole record using a soft rear tyre with 14 minutes of the hour to go - putting him momentarily 0.9sec clear of Pedrosa - and was going even faster on his next lap when he ran wide and was forced to ditch his RC212V before reaching a wall.

Unperturbed, the Australian later returned to the track on his spare bike and improved his pole time, setting a 1min 48.451sec on the penultimate of his 20 laps.

Home star Pedrosa also raised his game in the closing stages to get within 0.296sec of Stoner, but third placed Ben Spies (Yamaha) was 0.704sec from pole.

Team-mate and reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo struggled throughout the session, although his last lap was good enough for fourth, 0.819sec from Stoner. Lorenzo starts this weekend 35 points behind Stoner in the championship.

Lorenzo's late improvement pushed Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso to fifth, while fellow Italian Marco Simoncelli was over one-second from pole for Honda Gresini in sixth.

Ducati riders Nicky Hayden and impressive rookie Karel Abraham were classified seventh (+1.30sec) and eighth (+1.33sec) on their carbon-fibre Desmosedicis, with Gresini's Hiroshi Aoyama ninth and Pramac Ducati's Randy de Puniet in tenth.

Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista once again failed to replicate his practice pace over a single qualifying lap, leaving him eleventh.

While the GSV-R posted the second best straight-line speed behind Hector Barbera (Ducati), the four Yamahas were at the bottom of the table with Cal Crutchlow's Tech 3 M1 the slowest. The rookie still qualified twelfth, three places ahead of team-mate Colin Edwards.

Valentino Rossi's first qualifying session with the aluminium front-section on his Ducati was interrupted by a fall. The seven-time MotoGP champion span-out early in the session as he powered onto the back straight.

The Italian was eventually left 1.509sec from Stoner in 13th place, but was only 0.2sec from team-mate Hayden.

Qualifying:

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