Nico Terol continued his perfect start to the new 125c season by taking pole position for the Grand Prix of Qatar.
The Bankia Aspar rider was comfortably fastest in all three practice sessions but was pushed all the way in qualifying by German Sandro Cortese. The Intact-Racing Team Germany star was the only man to take the fight to title favourite Terol, and held the top spot for the majority of the session.
After moving to the front with a 2:07.855, Cortese held pole position at the halfway stage. The German had been using all of the track, and more besides, to keep pace with his rival.
The late rush for times then triggered a head-to-head duel between the top two.
Terol was the first man in the 2:06s, despite a near collision with Luigi Morciano, and looked to have pole sewn up until Cortese beat him by the narrowest of margins, one thousandth of a second.
With the chequered flag flying, Terol responded with a 2:06.605 to eventually claim the first pole position of the 2011 season.
With just three riders per row in each class this year, Efren Vazquez rounded out the front row, albeit a full second behind the top two. Sergio Gadea picked his way through the traffic to take fourth, ahead of the second Aspar entrant, Hector Faubel, with Jonas Folger completing row two.
Teammate Danny Kent was the top Brit in 13th, just behind newcomer Miguel Oliveira. The Portuguese was overshadowed by fellow rookie Maverick Vinales, who starred throughout the session on his way to 9th.
Taylor Mackenzie produced his best performance of the weekend to finish 20th, one row ahead of Mahindra Racing's Danny Webb.
Harry Stafford certainly had the toughest time of the British quartet. Having not set a time until the final five minutes, the former Red Bull Rookie eventually sneaked in with the 28th fastest time.
Theriders will warm-up later this evening ahead of the opening round of 125cc season at 16:00 GMT on Sunday.
|1||Nico Terol||Bankia Aspar Team||2:06.605|
|2||Sandro Cortese||Intact-Racing Team Germany||2:06.695||+0.090|
|5||Hector Faubel||Bankia Aspar Team||2:08.062||+1.457|
|6||Jonas Folger||Red Bull Ajo MotorSport||2:08.298||+1.693|
|8||Alberto Moncayo||AndalucÃa Banca Civica||2:08.683||+2.078|
|10||Luis Salom||RW Racing GP||2:09.331||+2.726|
|11||Louis Rossi||Matteoni Racing||2:09.466||+2.861|
|12||Miguel Oliveira||AndalucÃa Banca Civica||2:09.487||+2.882|
|13||Danny Kent||Red Bull Ajo MotorSport||2:09.705||+3.100|
|14||Simone Grotzkyj||Phonica Racing||2:09.835||+3.230|
|15||Adrian Martin||Bankia Aspar Team||2:09.859||+3.254|
|16||Niklas Ajo||TT Motion Events Racing||2:10.091||+3.486|
|18||Hiroki Ono||Caretta Technology Forward Team||2:10.223||+3.618|
|19||Luigi Morciano||Team Italia FMI||2:10.269||+3.664|
|20||Taylor Mackenzie||Phonica Racing||2:10.373||+3.768|
|22||Marcel Schrotter||Mahindra Racing||2:10.602||+3.997|
|23||Danny Webb||Mahindra Racing||2:10.608||+4.003|
|24||Alessandro Tonucci||Team Italia FMI||2:11.335||+4.728|
|25||Joan Perello||Matteoni Racing||2:11.699||+5.094|
|27||Giulian Pedone||Phonica Racing||2:12.341||+5.736|
|29||Daniel Kartheininger||Caretta Technology Forward Team||2:13.769||+7.164|
|30||Francesco Mauriello||WTR-Ten10 Racing||2:14.994||+8.389|
|NQ||Sarath Kumar||WTR-Ten10 Racing||2:15.620||+9.015|