Qualifying for the MotoGP class at Mugello took place under a hot Tuscan sun, the weekend continuing as it started yesterday. And just like yesterday afternoon, it was Valentino Rossi taking an early lead, cracking under the race lap record and into the 1'49s on just his 3rd lap. Rossi had been goaded into action after the morning session in which Casey Stoner once again did what he does best, which is to start fast and never let up, the Australian setting an astonishing 1'49.323 in the second session of free practice. So by laying down the law early in qualifying, Valentino Rossi set out his stall, making it clear to all what it would take to beat him.
For the first half of qualifying, the only man capable of getting close to Rossi was his team mate Jorge Lorenzo. Both Fiat Yamaha men spent the first 30 minutes doing long runs and race simulations, the pair of them putting in terrifyingly consistent runs in the mid to high 1'49s, setting the pace that will be needed for victory at Mugello on Sunday. Only Colin Edwards looked capable of approaching the pace of the Fiat Yamahas, the Texan demonstrating that the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha is very close to the factory bikes in performance.
The halfway point of the session came and went, and the wait began for the first real challenge to Rossi's dominance. The expectation was that it would come from Casey Stoner, as Stoner's time from the morning session was still nearly half a second quicker than Rossi's provisional pole session, but the Australian was having problems with the Ducati, spending time diving in and out of the pits to adjust the bike, and get the machine to turn.