Alvaro Bautista claimed his third 250cc pole position of 2009 by winning a frantic battle with Marco Simoncelli, Hector Barbera and Hiroshi Aoyama at Mugello.
Championship leader Bautista, who won at the track in 2007, squeezed ahead of his rivals with a 1m52.804s lap and then hung on as Simoncelli encountered Raffaele de Rosa at the final corner of his last run and just failed to beat the Aspar Aprilia.
Bautista, Simoncelli and Barbera -- the latter having escaped an early visit to the gravel -- ended the session covered by just 0.038 seconds.
Aoyama had held provisional pole for the majority of the session, as his early 1m53.3s lap initially put him over a second clear of the pack. But he was eventually pushed down to fourth, and although he trimmed 0.3sec off his time in the final seconds, that was not enough to get him back into the pole battle.
Alex Devon and Thomas Luthi, Ratthapark Willairot and Mattia Pasini fill the second row, ahead of de Rosa and Roberto Locatelli.
De Rosa was responsible for the most entertaining moment of the session, as he did a remarkable job to stay upright after losing control on the exit of Arrabiata 2. The Scot Honda rider was left dangling from the right hand side of the bike for some distance, both legs scraping the ground, but managed to clamber back while still at speed and keep going relatively unscathed.
Pos Rider Bike Time
1. Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 1m52.804s
2. Marco Simoncelli Gilera 1m52.818s + 0.014
3. Hector Barbera Aprilia 1m52.842s + 0.038
4. Hiroshi Aoyama Honda 1m53.050s + 0.246
5. Alex Debon Aprilia 1m53.573s + 0.769
6. Thomas Luthi Aprilia 1m53.702s + 0.898
7. Ratthapark Wilairot Honda 1m53.811s + 1.007
8. Mattia Pasini Aprilia 1m53.875s + 1.071
9. Raffaele de Rosa Honda 1m53.941s + 1.137
10. Roberto Locatelli Gilera 1m53.988s + 1.184
11. Karel Abraham Aprilia 1m54.052s + 1.248
12. Jules Cluzel Aprilia 1m54.211s + 1.407
13. Hector Faubel Honda 1m54.351s + 1.547
14. Mike di Meglio Aprilia 1m54.363s + 1.559
15. Lukas Pesek Aprilia 1m54.375s + 1.571
16. Shoya Tomizawa Honda 1m54.992s + 2.188
17. Alex Baldolini Aprilia 1m55.461s + 2.657
18. Imre Toth Aprilia 1m56.201s + 3.397
19. Axel Pons Aprilia 1m57.574s + 4.770
20. Valentin Debise Honda 1m57.699s + 4.895
21. Vladimir Leonov Aprilia 1m58.464s + 5.660
22. Balazs Nemeth Aprilia 1m59.132s + 6.328
23. Daniel Arcas Aprilia 1m59.513s + 6.709
24. Bastien Chesaux Honda 1m59.617s + 6.813