Dani Pedrosa has taken his and Honda's first pole position of the 2009 MotoGP season, after stealing the top spot by just 0.005sec from arch-rival Jorge Lorenzo on his very final lap at Le Mans on Saturday.

The constantly changing French Grand Prix weather saw the first one-hour qualifying session of the season take place under sunny skies, but with the odd damp patch initially present after earlier rain.

Pedrosa had been lurking near the sharp end for much of the qualifying session, before suddenly leaping from fourth to pole with a last-gasp lap of 1min 33.974sec, comfortably under the best race lap from last year's event and one-second faster than had been seen in free practice.

Lorenzo had only just retaken pole from Ducati's Casey Stoner when Pedrosa snatched P1 from him, creating a front row - of three different brands of motorcycle - covered by just 0.075sec.

Reigning six time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi will fight for his 99th grand prix victory from fourth on the grid. The 2008 Le Mans winner, who holds an eleven point lead over Stoner, had been just sixth and eleventh during the two free practice sessions, and only seventh by the halfway point of qualifying.

The Italian upped his pace in the closing stages to finish 0.132sec from Pedrosa, but never appeared on top of the timesheets.

By contrast Colin Edwards - who had been 'confused' by his lowly tenth place in Friday practice, but was fastest by almost half a second in Saturday morning practice - set the pace for much of the qualifying session, before slipping back to sixth in the closing stages. Nevertheless, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was only 0.356sec from pole.

Pedrosa's Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, fastest in Friday's rain interrupted session, will separate the two M1 riders on the second row.

Rizla Suzuki team-mates Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi will line-up seventh and eighth, with Marco Melandri - who lost the front of his ZX-RR at high speed just before the halfway mark - ninth for Hayate.

Home hero Randy de Puniet fell from his LCR Honda after just seven minutes, but returned on his spare bike to claim tenth on the grid with Toni Elias eleventh for Honda Gresini and James Toseland twelfth on the second Tech 3 bike.

Nicky Hayden was the second best Ducati rider after team-mate Stoner, albeit in 13th place, with MotoGP rookie Mika Kallio - who held provisional pole during the early stages - 0.059sec slower than the 2006 world champion on his Pramac-run machine.

Yuki Takahashi (Team Scot), Alex de Angelis (Honda Gresini) and Niccolo Canepa (Pramac Ducati) complete the 17 rider grid.

Sete Gibernau has been ruled out of the French Grand Prix after fracturing his left collarbone in two places during a Saturday morning free practice highside.

The Spaniard is aiming to return to action at his home Catalan Grand Prix, meaning he will miss not only Sunday's race but also the following Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.

Sunday's weather remains unpredictable.

Qualifying:

1. Pedrosa
2. Lorenzo
3. Stoner
4. Rossi
5. Dovizioso
6. Edwards
7. Vermeulen
8. Capirossi
9. Melandri
10. de Puniet
11. Elias
12. Toseland
13. Hayden
14. Kallio
15. Takahashi
16. de Angelis
17. Canepa