Dani Pedrosa ended fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo’s domination of the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello this afternoon after putting his Repsol Honda on pole position for the second time in 2012.
Pedrosa, who galvanised his title challenge with a first win of the season in Germany last weekend, secured his first pole since Le Mans with a best lap of 1.47.284.
Pole position had seemed unlikely though after world championship leader Lorenzo dominated practice and led for most of a gripping qualifying session that took place in scorching hot conditions.
Lorenzo was looking to improve on his best time of 1.47.423 and had powered his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 to the fastest time in the first three sectors on his final lap when he suddenly pulled into the pits with pole seemingly at his mercy.
Lorenzo reacted angrily when realising he had missed a golden opportunity to score a third pole position of the season.
He later revealed his bike started to suffer an electrical problem in the last two laps and then the engine cut out exiting the final corner.
His best lap time at the end was 0.139s behind Pedrosa and an all-Spanish front row was completed by Hector Barbera, who scored his best ever premier class qualifying result.
The Pramac Ducati rider produced the shock of the weekend to claim third place on the grid with a best lap of 1.47.545.
Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that he set his best time all alone and without towing a faster rider, which has become a trademark of Barbera’s, much to the annoyance of his rivals.
Barbera was the fastest Ducati rider with Nicky Hayden only 0.126s further back in fourth spot.
Reigning world champion Casey Stoner never looked like challenging for a fifth pole of the campaign and a lap of 1.47.689 left him fifth and off the front row for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez.
Cal Crutchlow was as high as second in the early part of the session but a crash with 12 minutes remaining at Turn 12 cost him precious track time.
He still bounced back to secure a place on the second row with a lap of 1.47.749 that was only 0.465s off pole.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was only 0.002s back in seventh while Ben Spies will start from the back of the third row.
The Texan also crashed out unhurt at Turn 12 and he ended with a best time of 1.48.149.
Valentino Rossi will start his home race from a lowly 10th and his best time of 1.38.502 was a second slower than Barbera and 0.9s adrift of factory Ducati team-mate Hayden.
British rider James Ellison equalled his best qualifying result of the season with a lap of 1.50.812 putting him in 16th place on the grid.