World champion Casey Stoner will start his quest for a first Estoril MotoGP victory from his first pole position at the circuit, after winning a tight qualifying battle in Portugal on Saturday.
Stoner edged out Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa by just 0.013sec, with Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow completing a front row covered by a tenth of a second.
"In general it's been a good day for us and I'm really happy to get pole,” said Stoner, who was getting his RC213V out of shape early in qualifying.
“FP3 was positive and we made progress on the bike, we had the bike turning well with good front feeling. Unfortunately in qualifying we tried to improve it further but managed to lose the good points!
“We did find a little better feeling in the rear but we couldn't get the bike to turn and do what we wanted it to. We didn't really feel we had the pace to be on pole today, but after the red flag came out with 10 minutes remaining we were able to get out there and put together a good enough lap to take pole.
“We've been pretty fast in every session and our race pace gives us confidence but we'll have to have a think about which set up direction we go for in warm up and hope this is the best for the race.”
Victory for Stoner on Sunday would also guarantee the Australian the 2012 world championship lead, since he starts four points behind Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo, previously unbeaten in an Estoril MotoGP qualifying session, was fastest for much of hour of track time, but slipped to fourth after the restart - due to a collision between Randy de Puniet and Colin Edwards.
Edwards has been diagnosed with a broken collarbone.
“I was sorry to see Colin has broken his collar bone again and I send him by best wishes,” said Stoner.