Casey Stoner will start his quest for a fourth successive Qatar Grand Prix victory from pole position, after maintaining his place at the top of the timesheets during Saturday night's qualifying session.
Reigning seven time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi predictably offered the only resistance, taking pole from the Australian just before the halfway mark. However it took Stoner less than ten minutes to not only regain the position, but pull almost half a second clear.
That was with the harder compound Bridgestone rear, which he will use for the race.
Stoner fitted the softer option during the final 15 minutes, but like many others - including Rossi, who almost fell - initially found no time benefit with the 'white line' rubber.
The #27 did eventually trim a few hundredths from his best time with the soft tyre in the closing minutes - and it looked like he needed to as Rossi dipped several tenths under at the start of his final run.
But the lapped slipped away from the Fiat Yamaha rider and Rossi crossed the line 0.355sec from Stoner's best, confirming pole for the Ducati rider on the grand prix debut of the factory's latest 'big bang' engine.
Rossi's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo snatched a late third - 0.513sec from Stoner - but is more worried about set-up issues than the strength in his right hand, which he fractured during the winter.
Top Honda and top satellite rider was Randy de Puniet, who delivered an excellent performance to put his LCR machine 0.8sec from pole and be the only non-factory rider in the top seven.
Behind the Frenchman, Loris Capirossi will start his 300th grand prix from fifth position for Rizla Suzuki after gaining a welcome tow behind Rossi.
Capirossi had fallen on Friday and it was rookie team-mate Alvaro Bautista who pushed a little too hard on Saturday, sending his GSV-R sliding down the asphalt at the end of the session and leaving the Spaniard 13th.