Dani Pedrosa will start from pole position for the 11th round of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship at Indianapolis after keeping it upright in an otherwise dramatic qualifying session that was dominated by big accidents for Casey Stoner, Ben Spies and Nicky Hayden
With the riders commenting on the slippery nature of the Indianapolis infield, which isn't used much outside of the MotoGP event, during Friday's practice session, their worst fears appeared to be realised in qualifying after a trio of spectacular accidents would eliminate Stoner, Spies and Hayden in and around turn 13.
Stoner was the first to succumb within ten minutes of the session getting underway, the pre-qualifying favourite being flung into a spectacular high-side on the exit of the left-hander and landing heavily on his feet. Stretchered off the circuit and transferred to the medical centre, Stoner has since been diagnosed with torn ligaments, an injury that puts him in doubt for both the Indy race and next weekend's Brno event.
With Stoner out of contention, the battle for pole position appeared to be brewing between his Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa and local hero Ben Spies, the outgoing Yamaha rider coming into qualifying feeling confident after a strong showing in free practice.
However, the American's dismal run of luck appeared to strike again with 12 minutes remaining as he high-sided on the entrance of turn 13. Occurring on a lap that looked capable of putting him top of the timesheets, an embattled Spies would walk away unaided, though it initially seemed his pole position challenge had come to an abrupt halt.
Worse was the follow just four minutes later though when Hayden became the third rider to fall heavily between turn 13 and 14, the Ducati rider arguably suffering worst of all when he was knocked unconscious on impact with the ground. Though he regained consciousness fairly quickly, an evidently groggy Hayden has been taken to the medical centre for checks.
With carnage occurring around the riders, the fight for pole position almost took a back seat as a dwindling number of competitors battled it out for the front row.
With Hayden's accident prompting a red flag stoppage, the stage was set for an eight minute dash for pole position, but with Pedrosa returning to the circuit to improve the benchmark to a lap record breaking 1min 38.813s, it was the Spaniard who would hold on for his third pole position of the season.
As it happens, series leader Jorge Lorenzo would get close to his countryman after a big improvement over his free practice efforts, the Yamaha rider coming in just a tenth shy of his key title rival.