Having won the floodlit race from pole position last season the Australian beat his qualifying time from 2009 by over two-tenths of a second, as he followed up his display as the fastest rider in free practice this weekend.
Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) was second fastest in the hour-long qualifying with a time of 1’55.362, as he ensured his title defense will begin from the front row of the grid in Losail.
Rossi’s Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo looks to be in good shape despite some concerns over his fitness that were still lingering at the start of the weekend. Any such questions were answered with a strong display that had been hinted at in practice, as the Spaniard timed in at just over half a second off Stoner’s pace to complete the front row.
Heading up the second row for the inaugural race of 2010 will be Randy de Puniet. The LCR Honda rider’s progression throughout the weekend continued with a best time of 1’55.831, putting him in fourth position and making him not only the fastest Honda on the starting grid but also the highest placed private rider.
Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) will start his record-breaking 300th Grand Prix from fifth place after his late surge also produced a leap in places. The veteran, with a time of 1’55.899 on his GSV-R, was ahead of fellow Italian Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda). His team-mate Dani Pedrosa – who had struggled to find his pace during free practice – managed to step his level up as he posted a time of 1’55.990 to take seventh spot.
Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech3) and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) took eighth and ninth fastest respectively to join Pedrosa on the third row, with 250cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) finding a fast last-minute lap to complete the top ten and place himself as the highest rookie on the grid.
Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech3) finished 11th, and there were crashes for Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) – 12th – and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) – 15th – inside the opening 10 minutes of the session. Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) had a fall late on, but only after he had set his best time which will see him start his first MotoGP race from 13th position.