Johann Zarco had a new lap record in the bag with over half an hour left of qualifying for the Moto2 Valencia Grand Prix, with the early laps of the Ricardo Tormo track heralding the best times for most of the riders.
A new pole record of 1m 34.879s for the Ajo Motorsport man held strong despite late runs hoping to topple the Frenchman from both Tom Luthi and Franco Morbidelli.
Both lacked the pace over the final sector as the track heated up – Interwetten rider Luthi will be looking to secure second in the championship from the same position on the grid, with Morbidelli giving everything he had aboard the EG 0,0 Marc VDS bike but falling just short after encountering traffic to complete the front row.
Mattia Pasini (Italtrans) was fast enough for fourth on the grid despite riding with a broken finger, while the equally damaged Alex Rins pushed his way up to fifth for Paginas Amarillas HP40 to keep up his challenge for second overall.
They will be joined by Julian Simon (QMMF Racing) who finished sixth in what appears to be his final world championship qualifying session.
Gresini's Sam Lowes starts seventh alongside fellow Briton Danny Kent in eighth for Leopard, not quite matching up to the pace he showed in practice.
Taka Nakagami was one of the few to improve later in the session, rising to ninth for Idemitsu, with Alex Marquez continuing to look a better prospect in the second half of the season completing the top ten on the second Marc VDS entry.
Miguel Oliveira was a back to being top rookie in qualifying in 15th and will be hoping to repeat that success on his Leopard to move back to the top in the overall standings after being overtaken by Luca Marini in his absence.
Axel Pons was the only faller in the session, but still did enough before his crash to remain 16th for AGR Team.
Hafizh Syahrin braved the track after stomach flu had seen him sit out practice and placed 24th for Petronas Raceline Malaysia.
There are wildcards in Valencia with Federico Fuligni representing Team Ciatti and Hugo Clere giving the Promoto Sport Transfiormers another run. They will sit in 28th and 30th on the grid respectively.