Casey Stoner held on for pole position at Jerez despite going off at the end of the session.
The Australian was one of a host of riders who had accidents during the hour, but his slide deep into the first corner gravel came on the run after he had set the 1m38.757s that would earn him pole.
His Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa took second as the team’s domination continued, but the Spaniard had to dig deep to beat his Yamaha-riding countryman Jorge Lorenzo, who was only denied second place by 0.003 seconds.
Valentino Rossi had a terrible session and will start only 12th. He crashed his Ducati at Turn 8 in the early stages and while he rejoined on his spare bike, he lacked pace for the rest of the hour and ended up behind his team-mate Nicky Hayden on the fourth row.
Ben Spies also fell at the first corner, yet held on to fourth on the second works Yamaha. He shares row two with Gresini Honda’s Marco Simoncelli and works Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso – the latter showing his best form so far this weekend.
Pramac’s Randy de Puniet was top Ducati rider – not for the first time this weekend – despite crashing at the right-hander onto the back straight with seven minutes to go. He only lost one place after the accident, and will start seventh ahead of the two Tech 3 Yamahas. Colin Edwards had a minor fall of his own but kept eighth, just in front of team-mate Cal Crutchlow.
Hiroshi Aoyama was yet another man to have a low-side fall during the session. He was the only one of the crashers who appeared to have picked up an injury, as his tumbling Gresini Honda clouted him on the leg when he went off at Turn 11, but he was soon able to rejoin and qualified 10th.
Further back, Suzuki stand-in John Hopkins closed the gap to the front to just 1.5s as he qualified a very respectable 14th for his first MotoGP race since the end of 2008.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap 1. Casey Stoner Honda 1m38.757s 2. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m38.915s + 0.158s 3. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m38.918s + 0.161s 4. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m39.390s + 0.633s 5. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m39.486s + 0.729s 6. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m39.709s + 0.952s 7. Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 1m39.892s + 1.135s 8. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m39.895s + 1.138s 9. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m40.019s + 1.262s 10. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda 1m40.168s + 1.411s 11. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m40.175s + 1.418s 12. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m40.185s + 1.428s 13. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m40.217s + 1.460s 14. John Hopkins Suzuki 1m40.310s + 1.553s 15. Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 1m40.523s + 1.766s 16. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m40.601s + 1.844s 17. Toni Elias LCR Honda 1m41.114s + 2.357s