Marco Simoncelli claimed his maiden MotoGP pole position as he edged out the hitherto dominant Casey Stoner by 0.016sec in a hard-fought Catalunya Grand Prix qualifying session.
After Stoner's clean sweep of fastest practice times, the Honda rider had looked odds on for his fourth pole in five races as he dominated the majority of the hour – staying upright amid some spectacular moments – and seemed to be leaving his rivals to battle for second. But then Simoncelli blasted to a 1m42.413s time on his penultimate lap, to give Gresini Honda its first pole position since the end of the 2005 season. He made a mistake on his next lap, but pole was secure.
Stoner held second, with Jorge Lorenzo beating his Yamaha teammate Ben Spies to third, after the American had sat in a provisional second for while.
Andrea Dovizioso had to settle for fifth on the second Honda, with Cal Crutchlow doing a great job to represent Tech 3 Yamaha solo in a brilliant sixth place.
Valentino Rossi took his best qualifying position for Ducati so far in seventh, just ahead of his team-mate Nicky Hayden.
Suzuki will start in the top 10 for the first time this season with Alvaro Bautista taking ninth, followed by Aspar Ducati's Hector Barbera.
Karel Abraham had the only fall of the session, and initially looked like he might be in doubt for the race as he headed for the medical centre with pain in his left wrist. But the Czech rookie was able to rejoin on his Cardion AB Ducati later in the session.