Difficult day for Melandri
Casey Stoner picked up his first pole position of the season at Barcelona with a perfect lap on his third and final qualifying tyre.
The Australian had shown good form on his first two Bridgestone qualifiers before an outstanding demonstration
of skill and determination saw him smash the previous pole record by over six tenths of a second.
Stoner is expecting a close and combative race tomorrow, which could be affected by the weather. After a mixed bag so far this weekend uncertain forecasts make for an unpredictable race day, but the current World Champion is confident of his chances after finding a different set-up on each of his Desmosedici GP8 machines, both of which proved competitive today.
It was a much more difficult day for Marco Melandri, who crashed at the end of the afternoon qualifying practice when pushing to improve his grid position. Thankfully the Italian escaped any major injury.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) Pole Position: 1'41.186
"If I'm honest I really didn't expect to be on pole today, it's a big surprise! Practice has been going well and we've been getting gradually better on race tyres. The guys have worked really hard and come up with two different set-ups that I'm happy with on two different machines. At the moment we're torn between which one we're going to use in the race but that's a nice problem to have! When we put the final qualifying tyre in I thought we were going to be lucky to be on the front row but I was able to keep it smooth - the lap itself didn't actually feel all that fast but the time was great and in general we couldn't have asked for more from the session. Over the past four races we've been able to iron some things out, work out why we weren't as fast as we perhaps could have been at the start of the season and things are getting continually better. This pole position shows that we're going in the right direction so hopefully that trend can continue through to the race tomorrow."
MARCO MELANDRI (Ducati Marlboro Team) 16th fastest: 1'43.719
"It's been another really difficult day. We haven't managed to find a solution to our problems here and so tomorrow we'll be starting from the back again.
On my last run on a qualifying tyre I tried to give my maximum to improve my position but I was braking so hard that the front locked and I crashed, fortunately without injuring myself. We have to stay strong and keep working."