Romano Fenati pushed aside any memories of his qualifying woes from last season with a stunning final lap under the floodlights at the Losail circuit in Qatar.
The Sky Racing VR46 rider put in a superb final lap of 2m 06.131s aboard his KTM to secure the second pole of his career, pushing Livio Loi who had dominated the timesheets down to second, with the Belgians new record lap on Thursday still the top time of the weekend.
The RW Racing Honda driver still had plenty to celebrate, claiming his first ever front row start, eclipsing his previous best grid position of sixth.
Brad Binder benefited from a huge slipstream supplied by his team-mate Bo Bendsneyder to move into third as the clock ticked down.
There will be a shift on the grid for the South African Rider though as both Red Bull KTM Ajo riders, Binder and Bendsneyder, were handed three place grid penalties ahead of qualifying by race direction for riding slowly over three sectors in practice.
Fabio Quartararo lead the session briefly early on as he continues his learning curve after switching from Honda to KTM Machinery on joining the Leopard team, gaining a double slipstream for his best time after pushing the limits as he ran through the gravel several times over the 40 minutes.
Jorge Navarro returned after a turn six crash to work his way back to fifth for the Estrella Galicia 0,0, with the team having a strong Saturday with the top rookie rider in qualifying as Aron Canet finished just one place behind in sixth as the two worked the session riding around together.
Niccolo Antonelli was the first to fall sparking through the gravel at turn thirteen before returning to the track for Ongetta-Rivacold to chip away at his best for a final seventh.
Bo Bendsneyder finished his first qualifying session since joining as Red Bull Rookie champion in eighth before his demotion comes into action, while Enea Bastianini picked up time for Gresini to take ninth - a big improvement on his 2015 qualifying of 21st, which he translated to a podium finish.
Philipp Oettl worked away quietly and consistently for tenth for Schedl GP Racing.
Maria Herrera failed to capitalise on following Loi on her final laps and starts 24th.
John McPhee pushed on after a difficult start to the weekend on his way to 30th for the Peugeot MC Saxoprint outfit. His team-mate Alexis Masbou took pole at last years opener but had to settle for 21st on the grid in 2016.
Lorenzo Petrarca also crashed out towards the end of the session.