Ajo Motorsport rider Johann Zarco left it to the final seconds of qualifying to beat his own best time and drop the lap record even further on his way to pole position in Argentina, in a session where the heat, slippery track and a side wind made finding extra pace tricky.

The Frenchman's best effort of 1m 42.809 was almost three tenths faster than his nearest rival Tito Rabat, and over a second quicker than the old lap record set by the Spaniard last year.

Zarco, who looked set for pole after his early pace, used his track time to test out his bikes potential and claimed in parc ferme that his string of dominant, consistent laps had left him "ready to race".

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Raba, who looked to be heading for a timesheet topping lap before losing out in the final sector of the track several times, completed 24 laps over the course of the session aboard his EG 0,0 Marc VDS bike, more than any other rider, in his search for speed.

The all-Kalex front row is completed by Tom Luthi for Derendinger Racing Interwetten, his best qualifying performance of the year after switching from Suter.

Sam Lowes, who had been the first man to go under last season's record time in practice, was nudged off the front row by the Swiss rider's late fast lap, leaving him fourth in a session where the Speed Up team made several set-up and suspension changes in the search for improvements in the heat ahead of race day.

Joining the Briton on row two is Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), the top rookie setting new personal bests almost every lap for his best qualifying performance since moving up to Moto2 in fifth, with Jonas Folger showing the kind of pace that got him to the front in Qatar, taking sixth for the AGR Team.

Simone Corsi (Athina Forward Racing) heads row three in seventh, Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) qualified well again in eighth and Gresini's Xavier Simeon took ninth, while Mika Kallio - who had shown good pace in practice - did enough for a top ten start for Italtrans.

Alex Marquez continues his adjustment to Moto2 and his lap put the second EG 0,0 Marc VDS bike in 20th,

Many other familiar names were also down the grid order with former lightweight class champion Julian Simon 14th, Dominique Aegerter, who only just missed out on a podium finish in Argentina in 2014, 17th and Luis Salom, second last year, still struggling this season in 18th.

Franco Morbidelli found himself with nowhere to go, clipping Luis Salom to send his Italtrans into the gravel with just six minutes left on the clock, leaving him 22nd on the grid. The Italian was the only man to crash out.

Steven Odendaal replaces the injured Axel Pons at AGR Team, he starts 26th.