Casey Stoner withstood a late challenge from championship rival Jorge Lorenzo to claim his second MotoGP pole position of the season at Catalunya.
While most riders left it until the final minutes to bolt on soft rubber, Stoner (Honda) made his move with eight minutes to go, dropping down to a 1m41.295s – at the time enough to go more than three tenths clear of the field. There was still plenty of time for him to be deposed, but his benchmark ultimately proved too much, earning the reigning champion only his second MotoGP pole at Barcelona.
Yamaha's Lorenzo came closest to snatching top spot, moving into second in the final two minutes. The Spaniard had time for one more run but opted to sit up early on in the lap.
Few were left on circuit to challenge Stoner. Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow had already set his own best, enough to take second before Lorenzo's late charge. The Briton still did enough to secure the final place on the front row, ahead of the second works Yamaha of Ben Spies, who equalled his best qualifying performance of the year in fourth.
Dani Pedrosa, one of the favourites for pole, spoiled his final run when he ran wide and through the gravel at Turn 10. The Honda rider was forced to settle for fifth, ahead of the second Tech 3 Yamaha of Andrea Dovizioso.
Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi's works Ducatis will start on the third row in seventh and ninth, separated in the final minute by LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl.
Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista took 10th ahead of the satellite Pramac and Cardion Ducatis of Hector Barbera and Karel Abraham.
Aspar's Randy de Puniet meanwhile finished as top CRT rider in 13th, ahead of the returning Colin Edwards (Forward), who missed the previous round at Le Mans due to injury.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Casey Stoner Honda 1m41.295s
2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m41.441s + 0.146s
3. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m41.548s + 0.253s
4. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m41.552s + 0.257s
5. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m41.656s + 0.361s
6. Andrea Dovizioso Tech 3 Yamaha 1m41.687s + 0.392s
7. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m42.029s + 0.734s
8. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 1m42.065s + 0.770s
9. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m42.175s + 0.880s
10. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 1m42.356s + 1.061s
11. Hector Barbera Pramac Ducati 1m42.375s + 1.080s
12. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m43.266s + 1.971s
13. Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia 1m43.500s + 2.205s
14. Colin Edwards Forward Suter-BMW 1m44.024s + 2.729s
15. Aleix Espargaro Aspar Aprilia 1m44.041s + 2.746s
16. Michele Pirro Gresini FTR-Honda 1m44.356s + 3.061s
17. James Ellison Paul Bird Aprilia 1m44.763s + 3.468s
18. Mattia Pasini Aspar Aprilia 1m44.764s + 3.469s
19. Yonny Hernandez Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m44.833s + 3.538s
20. Danilo Petrucci Ioda-Aprilia 1m45.730s + 4.435s
21. Ivan Silva Avintia Inmotec-Kawasaki 1m45.962s + 4.667s