Valentino Rossi claimed his first pole position of the 2010 MotoGP season as he led teammate Jorge Lorenzo in a Yamaha 1-2 sweep in Le Mans qualifying.
Ducati's Casey Stoner had been fastest for much of the hour, but the Australian did not gain any speed when he switched from hard to soft tires for the final pole battle, so ended up fourth behind Dani Pedrosa (Honda). Pedrosa had been the first man to usurp Stoner, but he did not stay in front long before Rossi produced a 1m33.408s lap to claim pole. A slight loss of time in the middle of the lap meant Lorenzo could not quite match his team-mate, missing pole by 0.054sec as he pushed Pedrosa back to third.
The two Ducatis completed the top five, Nicky Hayden lapping just 0.021sec down on teammate Stoner as they took fourth and fifth.
LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet produced another excellent qualifying effort for his home grand prix to claim the final second row place, beating works Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso.
Aleix Espargaro maintained his strong form from this morning to edge into the top 10 for Pramac Ducati, lining up behind Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Loris Capirossi on the sole Suzuki.
While Capirossi's team-mate Alvaro Bautista was ruled out for the weekend by his morning crash, the other two men to suffer big accidents in final practice made it to qualifying but struggled for speed, with Ben Spies only 12th for Tech 3 and Pramac's Mika Kallio trailing the field.
Pos Rider Bike Time Gap
1. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m33.408s
2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m33.462s + 0.054s
3. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m33.573s + 0.165s
4. Casey Stoner Ducati 1m33.824s + 0.416s
5. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m33.845s + 0.437s
6. Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 1m34.074s + 0.666s
7. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m34.204s + 0.796s
8. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m34.304s + 0.896s
9. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1m34.306s + 0.898s
10. Aleix Espargaro Pramac Ducati 1m34.514s + 1.106s
11. Marco Melandri Gresini Honda 1m34.523s + 1.115s
12. Ben Spies Tech 3 Yamaha 1m34.920s + 1.512s
13. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m34.942s + 1.534s
14. Hiroshi Aoyama Interwetten Honda 1m34.979s + 1.571s
15. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m35.323s + 1.915s
16. Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati 1m35.810s + 2.402s