Cal Crutchlow began his second MotoGP season in (desert) storming fashion by claiming his first front row start during Saturday's qualifying session at Losail in Qatar.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider, previous best qualifying of sixth, was out-paced by only world champions Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) and Casey Stoner (Honda) as he finished 0.388sec from pole.
“I'm really happy and I think we can go into the race now with a lot more confidence. It is a great feeling to be on the front row with Casey and Jorge because everybody is aware of how fast they are,” said the Briton.
“It has felt like a long time coming to get a result like this but this is a fantastic reward for all the effort my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew put in over the winter. They worked with me a lot to help me learn how to ride in MotoGP and tonight is a great pay-off.
“I'm happy with my performance, but fair play to Jorge because he did a phenomenal job and that's an awesome lap time. But I always knew what I could do once we started putting the soft tyres in and I thought I'd have a crack at the front row.
“The big positive aside from my first front row in MotoGP is my race pace is going to be good enough to finish in the top six and that remains my goal. There's no doubt we are getting the absolute maximum out of the package and all I will do tomorrow night is try my best.
“I'd say per lap I am three or four-tenths off the pace Casey and Jorge are capable of, but that's a lot better than what it was last year."
Crutchlow's qualifying is the best by a Briton since former Tech 3 rider James Toseland claimed second on the grid for the 2008 Losail round.
New team-mate Andrea Dovizioso will start his first Yamaha race from sixth, having failed to maximise the potential of the softer tyres.
“I'm not going to be disappointed to finish sixth but I think we were a little bit unlucky tonight,” said the Italian, “We made a modification to the bike from last night and unfortunately it didn't give us the improvement we had anticipated, particularly with the soft tyres.
“I'm sure that for the race we will be quite a bit faster by switching back to the set -up of last night. I'm still full of optimism because my race pace on the hard tyres is not so far away from Lorenzo, but it is vital to start from as close to the front as possible because I think the tyres will lose grip quite quickly.
“The key will be to ride smooth to save the tyres and then we will see what happens in the final stages of the race.”