Rossi tames Lorenzo for soaking Sachsenring pole.

Valentino Rossi has taken pole position for the German Grand Prix after snatching the top spot from Fiat Yamaha team-mate, and title rival, Jorge Lorenzo on his very last lap at a soaking wet Sachsenring. 

    After a wet/dry Friday practice and dry Saturday morning session, there was no doubt about which tyres were needed for the afternoon hour - with rain pummelling the tight and twisty circuit from start to finish. 

    The rain got heavier during the second half of the session, slowing the rate of improvements, but Rossi was nevertheless able to topple Lorenzo with 14 minutes remaining. 

    Lorenzo, riding with a separated shoulder and fractured bone in his foot from Laguna Seca, then struck back with seven minutes to go. 

    The factory M1 riders, separated by just 0.025sec on track and nine points at the top of the championship, ignored the conditions to slog it out for supremacy while others - including third on the grid Casey Stoner - chose to sit out the closing minutes. 

    Lorenzo looked like he might have done enough, but Rossi raised himself to new levels on his final lap to gouge a massive 0.640sec from Lorenzo's best time, handing the reigning six time MotoGP world champion his third pole position of the season. 

    A cautious Stoner was a further 0.6sec behind for Ducati Marlboro, but will hope that his energy-saving qualifying session will allow him to fight harder and longer in the race, as he seeks to close a 16 point gap to Rossi. 

    Heading row two after an especially eventful session will be Stoner's team-mate Nicky Hayden. The American, fourth in dry morning practice, had a problematic start to the afternoon - sitting 17th and last after 15 minutes - then made rapid progress to reach fourth with a quarter of an hour to go. 

    But as the 2006 world champion pushed for a front row with six minutes to go, he became the last in a long line of riders to fall at turn eight, a fast downhill left hander. 

    Hayden highsided from his Desmosedici, throwing him into the air before he slammed shoulder-first into the side of Niccolo Canepa, bringing the Italian down with him. Hayden walked away, while Canepa required a stretcher but is thought to be okay. 

    Others to fall at the same corner were Randy de Puniet, Marco Melandri, Toni Elias, Alex de Angelis and Loris Capirossi. All walked away, but the riderless RC212Vs of Gresini team-mates Elias and de Angelis sustained heavy damage as they remained on two-wheels through the gravel and rammed the airfence at high speed. 

    Joining Hayden on row two will be satellite Honda riders de Angelis and de Puniet, as Hayden and de Angelis enjoyed their best qualifying of the season so far. 

    Top satellite rider in the world championship, Colin Edwards, will start from seventh position while US GP winner Dani Pedrosa - who crashed out of the race and world championship lead in the wet at last year's event - was only eighth for Repsol Honda. Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso looked even less comfortable on his way to eleventh. 

    Capirossi will line-up ninth for Rizla Suzuki with Pramac Ducati rookie Mika Kallio tenth despite his finger injury. Chris Vermeulen fought pain from his Friday highside to claim eleventh. 

    Melandri (13th), Canepa (15th) and Elias (17th) suffered due to their accidents, while James Toseland stayed on two wheels on his way to a disappointing 14th for Tech 3 Yamaha. Rookie Gabor Talmacsi featured in the top ten on several occasions before dropping to 16th for Scot Honda. 

    The MotoGP grid has been reduced to 17 permanent riders from Germany onwards, following the departure of the Grupo Francisco Hernando team, which had been running Sete Gibernau. 

    Rossi starts round nine just nine points ahead of Lorenzo and keen to keep a lid on the young Spaniard's growing confidence, particularly with Lorenzo apparently questioning why he should earn so much less than the Italian. 

    The 22-year-old dragged pole away from Rossi with seven minutes to go, then improved it further with three minutes remaining. 

    That looked to have Rossi on the ropes but, as has happened so many times before, the reigning six time MotoGP world champion delivered a last-gasp knockout blow, blasting 0.640secs under Lorenzo's best. 

    “I'm really happy for this pole because it means I've already got more than in the whole of last year!” said Rossi after his third pole of the 2009 season. “Getting the pole position here is very important for the race because it's such a hard place to overtake, so I'm really happy. 

    “At the end it was really very difficult and we were right on the limit because there was so much water on the track, but I knew I could push a bit more and the result was this great lap. 

    “I really hope it's dry tomorrow - for the sake of everybody - but at the moment it's doubtful so at least we can be confident that we're well prepared in the wet as well.” 

    Lorenzo, riding with shoulder and ankle injuries sustained at Laguna Seca, shrugged off the qualifying defeat and has at least continued his impressive statistic of a front row start at every round so far this year. 

    “Yesterday I was quite worried about my injuries but I am happy to say that today I feel a lot better and I was able to ride much more strongly and brake much later,” he revealed. “I was really fast in the dry this morning and then this afternoon I did a lot of consistent laps, improving all the time, which is very good because often I struggle in the wet. 

    “At the end it was very easy to crash so I didn't want to push too much or take too many chances, it was important to be careful! Second place is very good and I'm happy about the work we've done. I hope I feel even better tomorrow for the race and of course that the weather is a bit better too,” he added.

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