Dutch TT pole winner Casey Stoner admitted that he surprised himself with his pace as he grabbed the top spot out of the blue at the end of the Assen MotoGP qualifying session.
Stoner had been struggling all weekend with the hard Bridgestone tire, and had a big crash in final practice. Unlike many rivals, he did not go for a soft-tire single-lap run early in the rain-affected qualifying hour, so looked in danger of only starting ninth. But then the track dried in the final four minutes and Stoner produced a sensational lap to beat Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo to pole.
"Yesterday we spent most of the day trying to improve the chatter," said Stoner. "It's something we know builds up over the weekend and we're still trying to stay on top of things and just couldn't get the bike feeling good enough, especially when the temperature warmed up.
"This morning, we didn't even get a couple of laps done when I had a huge off – probably one of the biggest of my career, and certainly one of the most painful. I knocked myself around a bit.
"We didn't get too much data out of this morning's session, no one really did because of the rain. We knew we needed to use this afternoon's session to get every bit of data we could, so we stayed with the hard tire. The other teams seemed to be dealing with it quite well and there's a chance we'll have to use it tomorrow, but unfortunately we just haven't been able to get it working.
"So we stayed with the hard tire all the way until the end. Again the rain put us on the back foot a little bit. We needed more time on the track. We thought, 'Let's just put the softs on and see what we can do.' It was certainly a lap that surprised us as much as everyone else. We didn't realise we had that much pace in us."
Stoner has not won a grand prix since Estoril in early May, and while buoyed by his Assen pole, he remained concerned that he might not be able to sustain that speed on race day.
"The pace is there, we've just got to make sure we can last the race," he said.