With imposing clouds overhead it seemed necessary for the riders to set fast times from outset and Casey Stoner did just that with the Australian vaulting to the top of the time sheets early in the session before being displaced by Cal Crutchlow.
The Englishman produced a stunning lap and when he returned to pitlane he could have been forgiven if he started a rain dance. Unfortunately for the Tech 3 rider however the expected showers never came but by qualifying fourth fastest Crutchlow showed once again just how much more comfortable he is aboard the 1000cc Yamaha.
With a busy track Lorenzo was the bravest of all the riders with the former champion sitting in his garage while the rest of the field set fast times. When he did emerge from the pit lane he quickly moved from 12th to the second row before setting the pace in the closing stages.
The Spanish crowd was given a thrilling between Lorenzo and Pedrosa for the pole position with Lorenzo prevailing in the closing stages of the session.
They will be joined on the front row by Nicky Hayden with the American producing a stunning time in the final ten minutes. While much of the attention has been focused on his teammate Valentino Rossi’s struggles Hayden has quietly gone about his job and a front row start shows just how well he is riding.
Having fallen to the fourth fastest time Crutchlow will start alongside Casey Stoner. The reigning champion set the early pace but in the closing stages he was unable to find the required pace to challenge Lorenzo and Pedrosa. Ben Spies will also start from the second row but the Texan was 1.5s adrift and he still has lots of work to do if he is to approach the potential of his Yamaha.
With Rossi struggling and only setting the 13th fastest the top ten was rounded out by Randy de Puniet. The leading CRT rider was in scintillating form and claimed the scalps of Karel Abraham and Hector Barbera in addition to Rossi.
The session opened with Yonny Hernandez crashing at the final corner and while it looked like rain would punish the Columbian heavily he was able to rejoin the session and set the 17th fastest time.
Hernandez was not the only rider to crash with Crutchlow falling on an out lap and Colin Edwards suffered a heavy crash during the session. The Texan was only able to rejoin in the closing moments and was not able to do any better than qualify at the back of the field.