Casey Stoner set himself up for a fourth straight home victory by taking a dominate pole position for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, ahead of new champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Ducati's Stoner was fastest for most of the session, and though Yamaha man Lorenzo crept ahead of him with 14 minutes remaining, a blistering 1m30.281s lap from the Australian four minues later put him back on pole by nearly half a second. Not only could no one else get close to it, but Stoner extended his advantage to 0.6 seconds with a 1m30.107s in the closing minutes, just before rain started to fall, as he took pole for his home race for a third consecutive year.
Lorenzo remained third, with Ben Spies completing the front row after a great run on the Tech 3 Yamaha, albeit over a second down on Stoner's time.
Valentino Rossi starts an unhappy eighth on the second works Yamaha, having been left enraged by Aleix Espargaro when he was balked on his penultimate run. The former champion then failed to improve at the end of the session as the drizzle arrived.
Gresini Honda's Marco Simoncelli claimed his best MotoGP qualifying spot yet in fourth, ahead of Tech 3's Colin Edwards, Ducati's Nicky Hayden and LCR Honda's Randy de Puniet.
Andrea Dovizioso was back in ninth on the best of the works Hondas, as his teammate Dani Pedrosa qualified a tentative 15th on his return following his collarbone injury.
After its recent upturn, Suzuki slumped again and had a very tough session, with its two works bikes bringing up the tail of the field for a while. Loris Capirossi stayed in last place thanks to a late crash at the Hayshed corner, while Alvaro Bautista at least got up to 14th.
The only other rider to crash was Aspar Ducati's Hector Barbera, who ran wide at the first corner and fell when he hit the gravel. He had earlier escaped an excursion over the still-soggy grass without falling, as did Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda).
In what could be his last MotoGP appearance for now, amid rumours that he will be replaced by returnee Carlos Checa for the final two rounds, Mika Kallio showed an upturn in form to qualify 12th, just behind Pramac Ducati teammate Espargaro.
Pos Rider Team Time Gap
1. Casey Stoner Ducati 1m30.107s
2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m30.775s + 0.668s
3. Ben Spies Tech 3 Yamaha 1m31.386s + 1.279s
4. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m31.402s + 1.295s
5. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m31.415s + 1.308s
6. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m31.530s + 1.423s
7. Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 1m31.554s + 1.447s
8. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m31.627s + 1.520s
9. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m32.018s + 1.911s
10. Marco Melandri Gresini Honda 1m32.367s + 2.260s
11. Aleix Espargaro Pramac Ducati 1m32.542s + 2.435s
12. Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati 1m32.816s + 2.709s
13. Hiroshi Aoyama Interwetten Honda 1m33.190s + 3.083s
14. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m33.224s + 3.117s
15. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m33.384s + 3.277s
16. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m33.390s + 3.283s
17. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1m34.269s + 4.162s