Cal Crutchlow will start from the front row of the grid for the third time in the opening five races of 2012 at Catalunya tomorrow having qualified his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine in third place.
The British rider was in contention for pole position throughout a session run in scorching hot temperatures that peaked at 31 degrees and 10 minutes remained when he led the leaderboard with a 1.41.922.
He was only at the top of the rankings for seconds when home favourite Dani Pedrosa seized top spot, but the former World Supersport champion secured his place on the front row with just over two minutes left on the clock.
His time of 1.41.548 moved him up from fourth to second and he eventually took third behind Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo, who have won the opening four races between them.
Stoner secured only his second pole position of the season and 36th of his premier class career with a brilliant lap of 1.41.295 coming with eight minutes remaining.
Nobody could better that benchmark and it was world championship leader Lorenzo who got closest with a 1.41.441 putting him 0.146s back in second.
Ben Spies had his best qualifying since the opening round of the campaign in Qatar to claim fourth place with a best time of 1.41.552. That put the under pressure Texan just 0.004s away from snatching third from Crutchlow.
Pedrosa’s hopes of a front row in front of a sun drenched home crowd were ended when he ran off into the gravel on his last flying lap. That mistake leaves him fifth on the grid and off the front row for the first time since the opening round.
Crutchlow’s Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Andrea Dovizioso completes the second row.
The Italian led the timesheets with 17 minutes remaining and was always challenging for a front row, but his best time of 1.41.687 leaves him starting from sixth place.
Nicky Hayden was the top Ducati qualifier in seventh, the American finishing just ahead of rookie Stefan Bradl.
Valentino Rossi will probably be doing a rain dance tonight having qualified in ninth position on his factory Ducati GP12. The 33-year-old set a best time of 1.42.175 to finish 0.880s off pole.
A repeat of his second place in Le Mans last month certainly seems a remote possibility in dry conditions.
Randy de Puniet qualified top CRT rider in 13th with a best lap of 1.43.500 that left him 0.524s clear of Colin Edwards, who is back on the Suter-BMW after recovering from the broken left collarbone he sustained in Estoril.
British rider James Ellison’s best lap of 1.44.763 secured him 17th place on the grid.