MotoGP title leader Jorge Lorenzo snatched his fourth consecutive US MotoGP pole on the final sector of his final lap in Saturday's qualifying session at Laguna Seca.

Watched from the pits by Yamaha legend Wayne Rainey, Lorenzo led for most of the hour long session - setting a new pole record with six minutes to go.

But reigning champion Casey Stoner suddenly surged ahead with just two minutes remaining, despite having to weave around Danilo Petrucci out of the final turn.

Lorenzo was left lagging for much of his final lap, but overturned the deficit in the final sector to snatch pole back by just 0.074s.

Stoner's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa will start on the outside of the front row in third, while Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies was left shaken by a heavy accident on his way to fourth.

After a foggy morning session, in which Pedrosa and Casey Stoner didn't even complete a lap, bright and sunny - if relatively cool - conditions returned for the tenth qualifying session of the season.

Soft rear tyres were the popular choice from the start, with Lorenzo making his intentions clear by setting the best lap of the weekend after just seven minutes.

Spies was the only rider to break the Lorenzo-Pedrosa-Stoner top three domination, slipping into third with just under 20 minutes to go. The Texan was still holding the position when he suffered his unseen accident, which left him clearly wobbly as he got to his feet.

The #11, who recently announced that he will leave Yamaha at the end of the year, was still visibly shaken as he arrived back in the pits. Spies returned to the track for the final minutes but didn't improve.

A frustrated Stoner struggled with traffic throughout his final runs, while Pedrosa - fastest on Friday - set his best lap early on. The Spaniard had been just 0.007s from Lorenzo by the halfway stage, but didn't improve thereafter, ultimately costing him a place to Stoner.

Lorenzo will start Sunday's race 19 points ahead of Pedrosa and 37 points clear of Stoner. All three are former US GP winners.

Joining Spies on an all-Yamaha second row will be Tech 3 riders Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso, who were the final riders within one-second of Lorenzo.

Alvaro Bautista will line-up seventh for Honda Gresini, with former home US GP winner Nicky Hayden the lead Ducati in eighth place (+1.180s).

Unlike Hayden, team-mate Valentino Rossi is yet to sign for 2013 and a lowly tenth in qualifying, 1.990s from pole at the shortest track on the calendar, comes at a bad time for those hoping he will continue with Ducati.

Honda LCR rookie Stefan Bradl split the factory GP12 riders and will start in ninth place, his best lap a comfortable 0.8s quicker than Rossi.

Randy de Puniet came within 0.35s of putting his CRT Aprilia ahead of Rossi on his way to eleventh, the Frenchman out-pacing Aspar team-mate Aleix Espargaro by just 0.189s.

Colin Edwards will start his home round from 13th place, +3.145s, for Forward Racing as he too out-qualified the satellite Ducati prototypes of Karel Abraham (14th) and Pramac stand-in Toni Elias (17th).

Like Spies, Speed Master's Mattia Pasini (18th) walked away from a sizeable 'off'.

Wild-card Steve Rapp missed the 107% qualifying cut by 0.695s as he took the newly built Attack Performance CRT bike to a best lap time 6.3s slower than Lorenzo.

Qualifying:

1. Jorge Lorenzo
2. Casey Stoner
3. Dani Pedrosa
4. Ben Spies
5. Cal Crutchlow
6. Andrea Dovizioso
7. Alvaro Bautista
8. Nicky Hayden
9. Stefan Bradl
10. Valentino Rossi
11. Randy De Puniet
12. Aleix Espargaro
13. Colin Edwards
14. Karel Abraham
15. Yonny Hernandez
16. Michele Pirro
17. Toni Elias
18. Mattia Pasini
19. Danilo Petrucci
20. Ivan Silva
21. James Ellison
22. Steve Rapp

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