Stefan Bradl, fastest during the final pre-season Moto2 test at Jerez, carried that form straight into the Qatar race weekend by leading Thursday night's first practice session.
The Viessmann Kiefer (Kalex) rider, who won last year's Portuguese Grand Prix and finished ninth in the championship using a Suter chassis, finished the first official 2011 600cc session 0.342sec ahead of class rookie Marc Marquez.
Reigning 125cc world champion Marquez, second to Bradl at the end of pre-season testing, briefly knocked the German from the top with two minutes to go before finishing +0.342sec behind for Catalunya Caixa Repsol (Suter).
Marc VDS (Suter) rider Scott Redding, eighth in last year's championship with two podiums, claimed third place (+0.588sec) with Swiss Thomas Luthi fourth for Interwetten Suter and triple 2010 race winner Andrea Iannone fifth for Speed Master (Suter).
Last year's title runner-up Julian Simon was only eleventh for Aspar Suter (+1.387sec), with 2010 MotoGP riders Aleix Espargaro (Pons HP40) and Mika Kallio (Marc VDS) finishing their first Moto2 session in ninth and 23rd respectively.
Rookie Bradley Smith was the top Tech 3 rider in 20th.
The unique four-night schedule for the Qatar event will see one further Moto2 free practice session later tonight, another on Friday, then qualifying and (controversially) the warm-up on Saturday, before the race on Sunday.