Jorge Lorenzo stormed to his fifth successive pole position at Laguna Seca today after an action-packed qualifying session in California.
As had been the case in both practice sessions, the battle for pole position ahead of round nine of the 2010 MotoGP world championship was entirely between Lorenzo and factory Ducati rival Casey Stoner.
The pair had switched places at the top of the timesheets several times in a sun-soaked session.
But Fiat Yamaha rider Lorenzo claimed his fifth straight pole with a stunning late attack to deny Stoner top spot on the grid for the first time since the opening race in Qatar.
Lorenzo saved his best for last, a superb 1.20.978 securing him pole with just over ten seconds remaining on the clock.
That denied Stoner his first pole position since April by just 0.191s.
Australian Stoner claimed his fourth successive front row start and his best grid position since the opening race with second place.
A lap of 1.21.169 had put him 0.132s ahead of Lorenzo before the 23-year-old’s late burst of speed on board his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine.
Lorenzo and Stoner have now been first and second in both practice sessions and qualifying and this afternoon they were dominant throughout.
Andrea Dovizioso claimed his first ever MotoGP front row start with a best lap of 1.21.617, but that was a massive 0.639s behind Lorenzo.
The Italian edged out Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa by just 0.038s as the battle for the final spot on the front row was a closely contested affair.
Texan Ben Spies had occupied third with just over 20 minutes remaining but he had to settle for fifth place. He secured his second row slot with a fine last lap of 1.21.679. That left the 26-year-old less than one-tenth-of-a-second away from his maiden front row start in front of a large home crowd.
Spies’ late attack on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 bumped Valentino Rossi back down to sixth place. The reigning world champion clocked a best time of 1.21.688 to finish just 0.009s behind Spies.
Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards were seventh and eighth respectively while Mika Kallio suffered another crash late on at the Corkscrew. He walked away unhurt and will start tomorrow’s 32-lap race.