Aspar Aprilia riders Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet experienced contrasting fortunes in the closing stages of Saturday's qualifying session at Aragon.

Espargaro briefly reached as high as ninth after setting a lap time just 1.678s from pole on his CRT-spec Aprilia.

Although pushed back to eleventh by the end of the session, the Spaniard was delighted with his performance - which saw him out-qualify the manufacturer prototypes of Alvaro Bautista (Honda) and Karel Abraham (Ducati).

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Espargaro also qualified just 0.133s behind eighth place factory Ducati star Valentino Rossi.

"I am delighted with our performance today, this weekend has been fabulous," said Espargaro. "In the dry qualifying I felt comfortable from the start and pushed hard with the last soft tyre.

"I think we've set a genuinely fast fast time, and hopefully tomorrow we can continue the same. It will be a difficult race because we could not test the hard tyres and the softs degrade quickly.

"I hope we can have a dry warm-up and decide which tyres to use during the race. "

In a less celebratory mood was de Puniet, who looked set to continue his battle with Espargaro for top CRT honours - only to miss out on a crucial last run due to technical problems, dropping him to 13th on the grid.

"I'm a little disappointed, because I had a chance of the third or fourth row of the grid," said the Frenchman. "Our times have been fast and consistent pace, but with just two laps to the end, we have suffered a technical problem.

"It's a shame as we could have been the best CRT. On the other hand, we must be optimistic and it is better to have these things to happen today, not tomorrow during the race."