Mugello : Australian Casey Stoner will start on pole for Sunday`s Italian MotoGP after lowering the track record in qualifying at the Mugello circuit on Saturday.
The Honda rider posted a time of 1min 48.034sec to bag his fifth pole of 2011.
The 2007 world champion, winner of four of the seven races this season, is joined on the front row by last weekend`s Dutch Grand Prix winner Ben Spies and Marco Simoncelli.
Stoner coasted to pole half a second in front of Yamaha`s American star Spies on his ninth timed lap.
His time bettered the previous lap record of 1:48.080 set three hours earlier in practice by Spanish defending champion Jorge Lorenzo.
"We made one change on the bike from this morning and it worked out really well," said Stoner.
He added: "To set this time with tyres that had already put in 10 laps is very encouraging for the race."
Spies too is optimistic for Sunday`s showdown.
"We`ve got a good bike, but not yet good enough" he said.
"Everyone expects a lot of me, I`m aiming for a podium finish."
Fellow-front row occupant Simoncelli, commenting on the rain that fell during qualifying, commented: "The conditions were very delicate this afternoon."
Italian motorcycling legend Valentino Rossi was one rider affected by the wet conditions as he nursed his Ducati into 12th place, almost two seconds slower than Stoner who leads the overall standings on 136 points.
Lorenzo, 28 points behind in second, will start on the second row after qualifying in fifth.
Spain`s Marc Marquez, on a Suter, took pole for the Moto2 race with Derbi`s French rider Johann Zarco out in front in the 125cc category.