Hector Barbera claimed his fourth pole position of the 2009 250cc season at Estoril on Saturday, when just 0.088sec covered the top three riders.
Pepe World Aprilia rider Barbera edged out Aspar Aprilia title contender Alvaro Bautista by just 0.058sec, with reigning 250cc world champion Marco Simoncelli third and world championship leader Hiroshi Aoyama recovering to fourth for Scot Honda.
Alex Debon had also been in pole contention but was carried away on a stretcher after a big fall with ten minutes to go, dropping him back to fifth on the grid for Aeropuerto-Castello-Blusens Aprilia.
2009 race winner Mattia Pasini - left without a bike in the Team Toth pits on Friday after payment 'problems' between the outfit and Aprilia - reappeared on a re-livered bike running under the 'Team Globalgest' banner, with his former mechanics and support from the Caffe Latte squad.
Qualifying - Estoril:
1. Barbera (Aprilia) 1min 40.596sec
2. Bautista (Aprilia) +0.058sec
3. Simoncelli (Gilera) +0.088sec
4. H. Aoyama (Honda) +0.283sec
5. Debon (Aprilia) +0.412sec
6. de Rosa (Honda) +0.573sec
7. Pasini (Aprilia) +0.586sec
8. Wilairot (Honda) +0.594sec
9. Cluzel (Aprilia) +0.609sec
10. di Meglio (Aprilia) +0.757sec