Jorge Lorenzo shrugged off his violent morning practice crash to blast to only his second pole position of the year at Laguna Seca.
Despite being sore following the high-side he suffered at the end of the final practice session, Lorenzo took control of qualifying from the outset. A blistering long run included a 1m21.610s that put him on provisional pole for most of the hour.
His Yamaha teammate Ben Spies briefly nipped ahead with a 1m21.578s late on, but Lorenzo responded with 1m21.336s and 1m21.221s laps in quick succession. The MotoGP champion then improved yet further to end the session with a pole time of 1m21.202s.
But his title rival – and current points leader – Casey Stoner will start right next to him. The Honda rider seemed off his game as he sat only fourth going onto his final run, but pulled out a 1m21.274s to earn second, just 0.072 seconds down on Lorenzo. Sachsenring winner Dani Pedrosa completed row one on another factory Honda.
Spies crashed shortly after his best lap and could not get back out, so was pushed back to fourth. Marco Simoncelli's Gresini Honda and the factory team bike of Andrea Dovizioso will fill row two.
Ducati had a more encouraging session than of late, with Valentino Rossi equaling his best 2011 start in seventh, two places ahead of teammate Nicky Hayden, who had a crash at Turn 9 but was able to rejoin on his spare bike.
The two works Ducatis sandwiched the Aspar example of Hector Barbera, with the two Tech 3 Yamahas of Cal Crutchlow and Colin Edwards in 10th and 11th.
Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) and Randy de Puniet (Pramac Ducati) both had crashes during the hour, at Turn 3 and Turn 5 respectively. De Puniet remains in the medical centre undergoing checks at present.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m21.202s
2. Casey Stoner Honda 1m21.274s + 0.072s
3. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m21.385s + 0.183s
4. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m21.578s + 0.376s
5. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m21.696s + 0.494s
6. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m21.731s + 0.529s
7. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m22.235s + 1.033s
8. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m22.238s + 1.036s
9. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m22.271s + 1.069s
10. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m22.385s + 1.183s
11. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m22.520s + 1.318s
12. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m22.669s + 1.467s
13. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m22.893s + 1.691s
14. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda 1m22.937s + 1.735s
15. Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 1m22.961s + 1.759s
16. Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 1m23.876s + 2.674s
17. Toni Elias LCR Honda 1m24.156s + 2.954s
18. Ben Bostrom LCR Honda 1m25.291s + 4.089s