Johann Zarco took the first MotoGP pole of the season ahead of reigning champion Marc Marquez in Qatar, breaking the track's lap record as Valentino Rossi recovered from a crash in practice to place eighth.
Until Zarco's blistering 1:53.680 lap, the focus of the day had been on Rossi after he went down early in the third practice, with considerable damage done to his Yamaha.
But Rossi, who signed a two-year contract renewal with his team earlier this week, was still able to post the ninth-fastest time in practice and went one place better in qualifying.
Zarco had looked like the standout performer heading into qualifying and his stunning final lap smashed a 10-year track record to nudge ahead of Marquez on the front row.
The future of the Frenchman - a Moto2 champion in 2015 and 2016 - has been up in the air, with Honda among those reportedly interested in poaching the Tech3 Yamaha rider for 2019.
And Zarco would welcome the prospect of lining up alongside the dominant Marquez at Honda.
"To be Marquez's team-mate could be a nice thing," he said. "It's kind of a dream team, this Honda team. I remember some pictures of Mick Doohan, then Valentino Rossi, now Marquez.
"I need to wait and take the decision. First of all we do the first few races and then we will know."
Danilo Petrucci left it late to join Zarco and Marquez at the front with the third fastest time, while the second row will contain Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso and Alex Rins.
Dani Pedrosa, Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo make up a star-studded third row for Sunday's race.
|PSG matches against Montellier and Dijon rearranged|
|Martial agent clouds long-term future after United trigger extension|
|Zverev to make major final in 2019, predicts Ferrero|
|Canelo, Crawford, Lomachenko and the other pound-for-pound contenders|
|Barcelona boss Valverde admits to Lyon uncertainty|
|Club World Cup: Maverick Quintero gets another chance on the big stage|
|Henderson to miss majority of Ireland´s Six Nations campaign|
|Gentner to play on despite father´s death|
|Just good banter – Australia and India not concerned by Paine-Kohli exchange|
|Titans CB Logan Ryan out for season with broken leg|
|Suns send Trevor Ariza to Wizards for Kelly Oubre, Austin Rivers|
|Mourinho charge for ´improper´ language dismissed|
|Are the Knicks for sale? Depends on the offer, says Dolan|
|Klopp´s Liverpool are vulnerable – Neuer|
|Warrington: Frampton not an elite fighter|
|I want to finish the job off - Yates confirms Giro d´Italia focus in 2019|
|Atletico confirm Filipe Luis hamstring injury|
|Best backs Schmidt to lead Lions in 2021|
|Barcelona´s Vermaelen out for a month with calf injury|
|India lose Shaw for Australia tour as defeat looms in Perth|
|We didn´t have much luck - Nedved dismayed by Atletico tie|
|Manchester City must control Schalke, Begiristain warns|
|Ibrahimovic hints at LA Galaxy stay|
|Latham fills his boots in Wellington with record-breaking knock|
|I´m not thinking ´thank God it´s Bayern´ – Klopp|
|Luis Garcia and Steve McManaman confident of Liverpool progress|
|Arsenal face BATE as Chelsea get Malmo in Europa League|
|Europa League last 32: Draw in full|
|Irwin urges Mourinho turnaround before PSG Champions League clash|
|Rush backs German Klopp to see off Bayern|
|Hope shines as West Indies blitz Bangladesh in Sylhet|
|United and PSG set for Champions League showdown|
|Ajax star De Ligt delighted to join Golden Boy alumni|
|Champions League last 16: Draw in full|
|Lyon strikes to put Australia on course for victory in Perth|
|Mourinho´s players below Manchester United standards, says Giggs|
|We´ve got to find a way to get better in a hurry - McVay challenges spluttering Rams|
|Van Dijk hails ´game-changer´ Shaqiri for downing Man United|
|LeBron praises magical Wall as Lakers fall flat on the road|
|Champions League last 16: Who could get who in Monday´s draw?|
|Pochettino urges fans to ´kill´ racism ahead of EFL Cup derby|
|Ajax star De Ligt wins Golden Boy award|
|Foles fuels Eagles´ upset win over Rams|
|Latham carries bat as New Zealand leave Sri Lanka reeling|
|Keep your cool, Virat – Paine and Kohli in another confrontation|
|Depleted Nuggets complete season sweep of Raptors|
|Fabinho was ´outstanding´, says Klopp|
|Patriots QB Brady on loss to Steelers: We aren´t playing well enough to win|
|Elliott says Cowboys´ shut-out loss to Colts was embarrassing|
|De Bruyne not worried about Liverpool title challenge|
|Sixers star Simmons makes history with triple-double|
|WATCH: Nowitzki receives standing ovation in first home game of season|
|Seattle´s playoff spot on hold after Seahawks suffer OT loss to 49ers|
|Cheika survives as Wallabies coach, Johnson appointed|
|Vikings remain in NFC playoff picture|
|Steelers stay ahead as Patriots lose AFC´s second seed|
|Lionel Messi is the best, says Amor|
|I´m still tired just looking at Robertson – Mourinho in awe of Liverpool intensity|
|Casillas takes swipe at Mourinho after United lose to Liverpool|
|Valverde relieved as Messi brilliance prevents another Levante nightmare|
|WATCH: Leno proposes to girlfriend after Bears clinch division title|
|Messi and Suarez the world´s best strike partnership, says Pique|
|Klopp: I cannot keep every Liverpool player happy|
|Messi and Suarez outscoring Real Madrid and Atletico in LaLiga|
|Levante 0 Barcelona 5: Marvellous Messi banishes ghosts of last season|
|Colts rout Cowboys to keep playoff hopes alive|
|Bears shake off Packers to win NFC North and return to playoffs|
|Mourinho explains Pogba omission and defends Lukaku´s Liverpool showing|
|Liverpool´s display against Manchester United one of the best, claims Klopp|
|Look away Jose! Damning stats expose Manchester United´s limp Liverpool loss|