Fiat Yamaha's Valentino Rossi earned his first pole position of the season today, the defending MotoGP World Champion coming out on top of a heated final session at the Le Mans Circuit in France.Rossi was one of five riders who held the top spot at some point during the hour-long session, but he was the one on top when it mattered most. Rossi ended up just .054 of a second quicker than his teammate Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa was a shadow third - just .165 of a second off Rossi's mark in third to complete the front row for tomorrow's Grand Prix. Rossi's best was a 1:33.408 with Lorenzo at 1:33.462 and Pedrosa on 1:33.573."This weather is really making me very happy, because for once in Le Mans we have been able to use all of the sessions properly and now here we are on pole," Rossi said in a team release after earning the 59th pole position of his career. "My setting is good, I feel comfortable on my M1 and Bridgestone tires and my race pace is not bad either so everything is working out. It's a great pleasure to be on pole and when I looked and saw the lap time I was very pleased with my performance and with how well we had worked, so thanks to all my team. I am still worried about my shoulder because sincerely today after 10 or 15 laps I started to lose power, but I hope adrenaline will take over in the race and that I will be able to arrive fast right to the end."Row two will be led by Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner, the Australian having held the top spot late in the session before getting pushed down the timesheets by Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa. Still, he will start the race from the fourth with his teammate Nicky Hayden next to him. Hayden did his best lap while chasing Pedrosa and ended up being the final rider to crack the 1:34 barrier.Randy de Puniet will complete row two in sixth place in his home race, the Frenchman riding the LCR Honda in his best qualifying effort of the season.The third row will be headed by Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso with Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards and Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi joining him there. Edwards was one of the five who held the top spot during the session before slipping down the order.Row four will consist of Aleix Espargaro, Marco Melandri and Ben Spies. Spies was highsided from his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha in the morning session and suffered ankle and foot injuries. The Texan bravely came out for the final qualifying session and will give it a go in tomorrow's Grand Prix.Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista, however, has opted out of tomorrow's race, the Spaniard crashing this morning and further aggrevating the broken collarbone he sustained earlier in the week in a motocross-training accident.American Kenny Noyes earned his first-ever pole position in the Moto2 qualifying session, the Jack & Jones-backed rider lapping at 1:39.234 to best Yukio Takahashi. Alex Debon and Jules Cluzel rounded out the top four in the just-completed session.

Final Qualifying

1. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:33.408

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:33.462

3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:33.573

4. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:33.824

5. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:33.845

6. Randy de Puniet (Honda) 1:34.074

7. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:34.204

8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:34.304

9. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:34.306

10. Aleix Espargaro (Ducati) 1:34.514

11. Marco Melandri (Honda) 1:34.523

12. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:34.920

MotoGP Headlines

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.

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