Jorge Lorenzo will start Sunday's Qatar MotoGP night race from pole position after the reigning world champion came out on top in final qualifying at the Losail International Circuit.

The Movistar Yamaha rider defied expectations by clocking his pole time with a lap in 1m 55.543s on his very first flying lap, despite predictions that such a quick time would be impossible so swiftly on the new Michelin tyres, which generally take longer to provide optimum grip and feedback than the Bridgestones.

Yet it made no difference to Lorenzo, who may now still be able to produce his lightning-fast race starts on the new rubber, which has proved one of the Mallorcan's strongest attributes in recent seasons.

Lorenzo's time stood throughout the session with the rest of his rivals a massive 1.4 seconds adrift on their opening quick laps before closing the gap.

Lorenzo survived a massive rear-end moment during his second run and reported that the second tyre didn't offer the same level of grip.

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez claimed a front row start on the RC213V, lapping only 0.091s behind Lorenzo in 1m 54.634s before fitting a brand new hard front Michelin for his second run.

The two-time premier class champion was unable to better his time despite giving it everything, but Marquez held onto second place nonetheless.

Maverick Vinales kept his part of the bargain as the Spaniard put the Suzuki GSX-RR onto the front row in third, posting his fastest time on his final lap in 1m 54.638s to finish 0.95s off the top.

Vinales was chased by Valentino Rossi in the closing stages, who was able to use the Suzuki prospect as a target.

It certainly worked as last year's Qatar MotoGP race winner hauled himself up into fifth place on the middle of row two, 0.272s behind his factory Yamaha team-mate.

It was a huge leap for Rossi, who was down in 10th position as he pulled into pit lane following his first time attack.

Ducati's Andrea Iannone will be feeling aggrieved after being forced to settle for fourth when the Italian was held up on his last flying lap by Briton Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati).

Iannone had been third quickest with five minutes remaining but Friday's free practice pacesetter saw his chance blown after he encountered Redding, when he seemed poised to challenge Lorenzo for pole.

His team-mate, Andrea Dovizioso - last year's pole man in Doha - completed row three in sixth with a lap in 1m 54.963s

Dani Pedrosa heads up the third row, half a second behind Lorenzo, where he is joined by Hector Barbera on the Avintia Ducati GP14.2 and Pol Espargaro on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), who edged Bradley Smith on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha in Q1, finished ahead of his fellow countryman again in Q2 - eight tenths outside the pole standard - with an all-British row four rounded out by Redding.

There was a notable improvement by Ireland's Eugene Laverty in Q1 as the Aspar Ducati rider put his GP14.2 onto the fifth row in 14th place behind team-mate Yonny Hernandez, while Aleix Espargaro - a faller in Q1 - was 15th fastest on the second of the factory Suzuki machines.

Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati), Aprilia's Alvaro Bautista - who came off at speed in Q1 - and Aussie Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda) complete row six.

Miller's team-mate and premier class rookie Tito Rabat and factory Aprilia rider Stefan Bradl fill the remaining places on the grid.