By Lisa Lewis
Luis Salom took the first pole of the 2013 season, winning a session-long battle for the top spot with a new lap record as the Moto3 championship launched the qualifying action under the floodlights in Qatar on Saturday evening.
Salom, 2012's championship runner-up, had been fastest in free practice, and continued a blistering start to his Red Bull KTM career by beating Maverick Vinales.
The fastest laps came at the end of the session, with last year's Losail winner Vinales securing second on the grid for Team Calvo. Vinales is still adapting his riding style around his injury, having lost a fingertip at the final Jerez test. He started the session with a scare when his KTM was slow to start.
Completing the all Spanish top three was last season's rookie of the year, Alex Rins. The Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider came in to the qualifying session with strong pre-season testing results and had been in the top three for all the Losail practice sessions, his last lap securing him the final front row position in the dying moments.
With the top three covered by just 0.3 seconds it was German rider Jonas Folger who found himself pushed onto the second row for Mapfre Aspar aboard his Kalex KTM.
The much-improved Mahindra team saw an impressive lap from Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira put them into fifth position for tomorrow's race, while Alan Techer was the highest placed Honda rider, finishing sixth on his TSR Honda for the CIP Moto3 team.
Jakub Kornfeil spent much of the session circling solo and placed seventh for Redox RW Racing GP without the need for a tow.
Veteran of the class Efren Vazquez was eighth for Mahindra, while Alex Marquez - younger brother of MotoGP's Marc - was ninth for the Estrella Galicia 0'0 team. Red Bull's Arthur Sissis completes the top ten.
Malaysian rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin continued his troubled start to the season and was the last of the Red Bull KTM Ajo machines in eleventh.
Romano Fenati will be hoping for a repeat of his electric start to the 2012 season, but has the odds stacked against him after qualifying twelfth for the race which gave him his debut podium appearance last year.