Factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo has taken a surprise pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The reigning champion knocked practice pace-setter Macro Simoncelli from the top spot with less than five minutes remaining.
Just moments after his time was eclipsed, Simoncelli crashed at Turn 7 – the Italian escaping uninjured after losing the front-end of his Gresini Honda in the fast down-hill right-hander.
Simoncelli will start tomorrow’s race from second position, ahead of Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Ben Spies.
Stoner had set the fastest time to the end of the third sector on his final tour, but failed to improve from fourth.
Andrea Dovisioso, Colin Edwards, Cal Crutchlow, Valentino Rossi and Hector Barbera rounded out the top 10.
The grid will be completed by Hiroshi Aoyama, Karel Abraham, Nicky Hayden, Loris Capirossi, Alvaro Bautista, Randy de Puniet and Toni Ellias.
Simoncelli, who crashed out of the lead in the most recent MotoGP race in Jerez as well as falling during yesterday’s practice, says he’s confident for the race, despite his mistake today.
“For all of the practice here I was so fast, and also for the rhythm I’m fast, and so I”m confident for tomorrow,” he said.
“I”m disappointed for the crash, because after the first part of the practice today I thought it could be possible to do the pole position.
“But it is most important to have the rhythm for tomorrow, which i have, so I am ok.”
The qualifying session was run in dry conditions, despite morning showers at the venue. More rain is expected for the race.