Jorge Lorenzo missed out on a second consecutive pole position by just 0.005sec during qualifying for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans on Saturday.
The Fiat Yamaha rider had moved into provisional pole with nine minutes of the hour remaining, and was able to successfully retaliate when Ducati's Casey Stoner briefly displaced him in the closing minutes.
However, Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa dipped just five thousandths of a second under Lorenzo's time on his very final lap.
“I was tiny bit unlucky on that last lap, and we were so very close so it's a pity!” said Lorenzo. “Anyway the important thing is that we're on the first row and now we can try to get the good start that we need.
“I felt strong on the bike today and I was able to make a lot of consistent laps this afternoon, so I am happy about the shape we're in for the race. I really hope that the weather is the same tomorrow and I am looking forward to the race and to getting a good result, like last year here,” added the #99, who finished second to team-mate Valentino Rossi one year ago.
“Jorge's pace is quite good, he just missed pole due to a bit of traffic on his final lap but he's on the front row and that's the most important thing,” stated team manager Daniele Romagnoli. “Hopefully the French weather will be kind to us again tomorrow and we will be aiming for a return to the podium.”
Lorenzo will start Sunday's race joint third in the championship with Pedrosa.
Stoner will line-up on the outside of the front row, with championship leader Rossi fourth.