Jorge Lorenzo edged fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa in an extremely tight battle for MotoGP pole position at Jerez.
With the expected rain never truly materializing, the track was able to dry throughout the hour-long session, leading to a flurry of improvements in the final minutes.
Pole turned out to be a straight fight between the Yamaha of Lorenzo and the Honda of Pedrosa, both of whom lowered the benchmark and traded places on an almost lap-by-lap basis in the final five minutes. Lorenzo's penultimate effort, a 1m39.532s, ultimately proved enough, putting him just over one tenth clear of Pedrosa.
No other rider was able to get within one second of Lorenzo, with Ducati's Nicky Hayden 1.031sec down in third.
"We are very happy with this pole," Lorenzo said. "It was a strange session because of the water so you had to pay a lot of attention and not crash. I was patient and started late, and now we see what happens in the race."
Hayden's late effort served to deprive Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow of a front row start, the Briton having been fastest at the halfway mark. A fall disrupted his rhythm, but on the second chassis and worn slicks he was able to do enough to secure fourth, ahead of the second works Honda of reigning champion Casey Stoner. The Australian was never able to match his team-mate's pace, and had to abandon his final tour when he ran wide at Turn 1.
Ben Spies (Yamaha) completes the second row, ahead of Crutchlow's Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso, Gresini's Alvaro Bautista and LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl.
It was another disastrous session for Valentino Rossi. Despite going out in the final minutes – prime conditions – he wound up 13th fastest, 2.3sec down on his teammate Hayden. That means he starts behind the lead CRT bike of Randy de Puniet, who was 10th for Aspar, and both satellite Ducati bikes.
Colin Edwards finished bottom of the pile after crashing heavily at the halfway mark.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m39.532s
2. Daniel Pedrosa Honda 1m39.667s + 0.135s
3. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m40.563s + 1.031s
4. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m40.570s + 1.038s
5. Casey Stoner Honda 1m40.577s + 1.045s
6. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m41.090s + 1.558s
7. Andrea Dovizioso Tech 3 Yamaha 1m41.180s + 1.648s
8. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 1m41.447s + 1.915s
9. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 1m41.550s + 2.018s
10. Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia 1m41.700s + 2.168s
11. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m41.724s + 2.192s
12. Hector Barbera Pramac Ducati 1m41.871s + 2.339s
13. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m42.961s + 3.429s
14. Aleix Espargaro Aspar Aprilia 1m43.135s + 3.603s
15. Michele Pirro Gresini FTR-Honda 1m43.363s + 3.831s
16. Mattia Pasini Speed Master Aprilia 1m44.308s + 4.776s
17. Yonni Hernandez Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m44.467s + 4.935s
18. Danilo Petrucci Ioda-Aprilia 1m44.645s + 5.113s
19. Ivan Silva Avintia Inmotec-Kawasaki 1m44.717s + 5.185s
20. James Ellison Forward Suter-BMW 1m45.724s + 6.192s
21. Colin Edwards Forward Suter-BMW 1m46.200s + 6.668s