Jorge Lorenzo has taken the first pole position of the new 1000cc MotoGP
era, after getting the better of reigning champion Casey Stoner
in qualifying for the season-opening Qatar night race.
Lorenzo outpaced the Repsol Honda rider by 0.221sec at the conclusion of the hour long session, which saw all four Yamaha riders finish in the top six - confirming the strong form shown by the M1 during winter testing.
Completing the front row will be satellite Monster Yamaha Tech 3 star Cal Crutchlow, who lapped 0.388sec from Lorenzo to claim his best ever grand prix start.
A near half-second gap then separated the Briton from Lorenzo's factory team-mate Ben Spies, who fell for the second session in succession. The Texan was dragged along the asphalt by his bike after a lowside in the final minutes, before breaking free.
Nicky Hayden snatched fifth on the grid on his very final lap to be the leading Ducati rider, one-second from Lorenzo. The American's late jump pushed new Tech 3 signing Andrea Dovizioso
to sixth and bumped Dani Pedrosa
to row three.
Pedrosa was the second best RC213V rider after team-mate Stoner, who said he and the team have a long night ahead after chatter problems - which they had reduced during practice - returned with a vengeance in qualifying.
The biggest shock of the night was the poor form of Valentino Rossi
The seven time MotoGP
champion had been in the lower reaches of the top ten during practice, but slumped even further in qualifying to finish in twelfth place, over two-seconds from pole and the slowest of the manufacturer riders.
Rossi had qualified ninth and 1.5sec from pole at Qatar last season, n what was his first event for Ducati.
To put Rossi's predicament into further perspective, the Italian was only 0.8sec faster than the top CRT machine of Colin Edwards
(Suter-BMW). The Texan was all but confirmed as leading the new privateer class when his main rival, Aspar Aprilia's Randy de Puniet, crashed with 20 minutes to go.
Fellow CRT riders Danilo Petrucci, James Ellison, Ivan Silva and Mattia Pasini also fell, as did Cardion AB Ducati's Karel Abraham.
Back of the grid Silva (FTR-Kawasaki) and Ellison lapped slower than the 600cc Moto2 pole time set by Thomas Luthi, as 6.1sec covered the 21 premier-class competitors.
Warm-up and the season-opening race takes place on Sunday evening.Qualifying:
1. Jorge Lorenzo
2. Casey Stoner
3. Cal Crutchlow
4. Ben Spies
5. Nicky Hayden
6. Andrea Dovizioso
7. Dani Pedrosa
8. Hector Barbera
9. Stefan Bradl
10. Karel Abraham
11. Alvaro Bautista
12. Valentino Rossi
13. Colin Edwards
14. Randy De Puniet
15. Aleix Espargaro
16. Yonny Hernandez
17. Michele Pirro
18. Mattia Pasini
19. Danilo Petrucci
20. Ivan Silva
21. James Ellison