Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa mastered the tricky track conditions at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans, France better than his MotoGP peers today, the Spaniard earning his first pole position since last August.
"It was a tough session because in the beginning you didn't know if it was going to rain again," Pedrosa said. "We destroyed one set of rain tire and couldn't really get the feeling of the wet because it was almost dry at that moment of the practice. Then when it was dry we could go on the slicks and you couldn't see if it was completely dry, but it was quite dry. I am happy for the pole and big thanks to the team."
Pedrosa ended up with a best lap of 1:33.638 - .303 of a second better than his teammate Casey Stoner. Stoner, who had led all three of the previous sessions at Le Mans, opted to skip the wet part of the session while the others went out and destroyed rain tires, waiting for the track to be dry enough for slicks. But the Australian had trouble with slower riders on his good laps and that cost him any real chance of pole, he said in his post-session press conference.
Eight different riders took a stab at leading the session as the track constantly changed and it looked like Monster Energy Tech 3's Andrea Dovizioso might be the man to snatch the top spot as he led with some six minutes to go.
Stoner, however, took over shortly after that before Pedrosa stepped up to nab the spot with two minutes to go. Then the rains came again, with Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista's crash giving warning that the track wasn't up to par.
That kept the top front row as Pedrosa, Stoner and Dovizioso - the first for the Italian in his debut season on the Yamaha.
The late spat of rain caught Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo off guard and he ended up fourth and off the front row. Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha's Ben Spies will join the Spaniard on row two.
Marlboro Ducati's Valentino Rossi will lead row three, joined by Bautista and Pramac Ducati's Hector Barbera.
Rossi's teammate Nicky Hayden ended up 11th with top CRT man Randy de Puniet 12th.
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:33.638
2. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1:33.941
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1:33.976
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:34.104
5. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:34.178
6. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:34.669
7. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1:34.907
8. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:34.922
9. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1:34.950
10. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1:35.250
11. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:35.291