Bradley Smith will start from the front row of a 125GP race for the first time in 2010 having ended a sun-drenched Mugello qualifying session in third place.
The British rider comfortably beat his previous 2010 qualifying best of fifth with a best time of 1.58.572 to finish just 0.257s adrift of polesetter Sandro Cortese.
Smith, who won last year’s Italian 125GP, was only 0.236s behind in-form Spaniard Pol Espargaro in second place as he goes in search of his first podium finish in 2010.
Espargaro thought he had secured he first pole position of the season until German Cortese pipped right at the end.
Espargaro, who will now start from second on the grid for the fourth time in four races this season, had clocked a best time of 1.58.336 that looked like being fast enough to secure top spot.
But he spent the final eight minutes of the session watching from the sidelines having been fortunate to escape serious injury when he suffered a massive high-side crash on his 13th lap.
Cortese denied the Spaniard a fourth career pole position in the closing seconds with a best lap of 1.58.315.
That time gave Cortese pole by just 0.021s.
World championship leader Nicolas Terol will complete the front row having set a best time of 1.58.586.
Terol will start tomorrow’s 20-lap race with a narrow two-point lead over Espargaro.
British rider Danny Webb will start from 13th place on the grid with a best time of 2.00.131 that left him 1.816s off the best pace.