Spanish rookie Alex Rins claimed his first GP pole position at the second attempt after a frantic conclusion to qualifying at Jerez. A rapidly drying track threw the form book out of the window and as expected, the pole lap took place in the dying seconds with Rins edging out Sandro Cortese.
All three practice sessions in the morning took place in wet conditions, leaving the circuit damp at 1pm local time. Niklas Ajo was caught out, crashing at turn five, but Australian youngster Jack Miller looked at ease as he established himself at the front of the order.
The Caretta Technology rider held on until the final seven minutes when Jakub Kornfeil took over, setting a 1:59.083. Arthur Sissis continued the run of surprise polesitters by going marginally faster on his KTM before Miller stunned the field again, becoming the first man into the 1:58s.
Kornfeil's response was strong but his best effort fell short and he was quickly punished by Vinales, not Maverick but his cousin Isaac who took over second place. Miller made his final lap count to increase his lead but Sandro Cortese had too much for the Australian, sneaking ahead by 0.009s having shown little pace all afternoon.
The Estrella Galicia team had also kept quiet but Miguel Oliveira and Alex Rins sprang into action at the death. Oliveira, pacesetter in the morning session, took provisional pole by almost a second but his teammate stole his thunder with a 1:57.507, almost half a second quicker than the Portuguese.
The fight for the other place on the front row was still on with Kornfeil grabbing third, only to be immediately replaced by Alexis Masbou on the second Caretta Technology Honda. Cortese was now back in fifth but managed to haul himself back up to second on his final effort, only missing out on pole by 12 thousandths of a second. The Estrella Galicia teammates will start either side of him with the second row led by Masbou. Kornfeil will line up a career best fifth with Jack Miller rewarded with sixth after an impressive session.
Isaac Vinales got one over on his more illustrious cousin by qualifying seventh with Maverick, leader of the championship after his Qatar victory, only ninth with Arthur Sissis between him and Isaac. Romano Fenati, a thorn in Maverick's side three weeks ago, will be giving him a hard time again from tenth on the grid.
Danny Kent's difficult start to the year continued as he couldn't better 15th in qualifying while Danny Webb was the leading Mahindra in 21st.