Casey Stoner stormed to his ninth pole of the MotoGP season with a blistering performance in Aragon qualifying.
The championship leader was never headed after producing a sub-lap-record 1m49.165s on an early run, but would go much faster than that before the session was over. That time was still unbeaten when with 13 minutes to go, Stoner lapped in 1m48.663s, beneath last year's pole time.
He then ran off the road and crashed in the gravel at Turn 7 on his next lap – but calmly got the bike restarted, dusted himself down and returned to the pits, rejoined on his spare bike and set an even more remarkable 1m48.451s to cement his pole.
Stoner's teammate Dani Pedrosa took second, and was within 0.296sec of pole in the end. His final shot ended when he ran wide at Turn 14.
A Honda-dominated front row looked likely for much of the hour, but ultimately Yamaha found some pace, although it was Ben Spies who was its fastest rider in third, ahead of title contender Jorge Lorenzo. Andrea Dovizioso put the third works Honda in fifth, next to Gresini Honda's Marco Simoncelli.
Valentino Rossi had yet another tough session. He crashed at the penultimate corner a quarter of an hour into qualifying, then made strenuous efforts to get the Ducati back to the garage as it is believed that switching to the spare bike would have meant exceeding the six engines per season limit and taking a penalty. The latest revision to the Ducati has involved a change to the engine mounting points. It only took 12 minutes for Ducati to get Rossi back on track on his main bike, but 13th was his limit. His teammate Nicky Hayden qualified seventh, sharing row three with Karel Abraham (Cardion Ducati) and Hiroshi Aoyama (Gresini).
Early flying laps from Pramac Ducati's practice star Randy de Puniet and Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista raised hopes of underdog success as they placed themselves in the top four. But it was a false dawn and they would slip to 10th and 11th.
Cal Crutchlow had a similar experience, holding fifth for a spell before falling to 12th on a tough weekend for Tech 3 Yamaha. His teammate Colin Edwards was only 15th.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Casey Stoner Honda 1m48.451s
2. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m48.747s + 0.296s
3. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m49.155s + 0.704s
4. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m49.270s + 0.819s
5. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m49.372s + 0.921s
6. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m49.528s + 1.077s
7. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m49.752s + 1.301s
8. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m49.777s + 1.326s
9. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda 1m49.813s + 1.362s
10. Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 1m49.826s + 1.375s
11. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m49.883s + 1.432s
12. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m49.893s + 1.442s
13. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m49.960s + 1.509s
14. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m49.976s + 1.525s
15. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m50.105s + 1.654s
16. Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 1m50.752s + 2.301s
17. Toni Elias LCR Honda 1m51.073s + 2.622s