Thomas Luthi's lap in the early stages of qualifying proved to be good enough to secure pole position in Qatar despite a late onslaught from his rivals. The Swiss rider was quickest in every practice session over the past two days and converted it into a second career Moto2 pole.
The lap which sealed it came just seven minutes into the session as Luthi clocked a 2:00.187 and that gave him a half second advantage over Speed Up's Mike Di Meglio. Pol Espargaro, one of Luthi's biggest challengers through free practice, took over second position with half an hour remaining while Max Neukirchner created a surprise by taking third.
With seven minutes to go, Andrea Iannone jumped up to second while championship favourite Marc Marquez showed his hand moments later after a quiet weekend with a 2:00.259, good enough for second. The two men who were Stefan Bradl's toughest competition for the title last year continued to circulate Losail but try as they might, they couldn't overhaul Luthi who was confirmed as polesitter.
Espargaro fell back to fourth while Di Meglio took a superb fifth, just two places behind his teammate and Max Neukirchner gave Kiefer Racing sixth in their first qualifying session since Bradl's graduation to MotoGP.
Row three is an all-Kalex affair with Esteve Rabat starting seventh, the Spaniard was fastest in the warm-up session later in the evening with a time quicker than his qualifying effort. Italtrans duo Claudio Corti and Takaaki Nakagami will join Rabat although the Italian didn't help himself with a crash early on.
The first of the British riders will start from 12th but that will represent a relative success for Bradley Smith on a Tech 3 Mistral which is lacking straight-line speed compared to the frontrunners. Scott Redding will start right behind in 13th but the teenager won't be satisfied after figuring in the top six earlier in the weekend.
Johann Zarco claimed the honour of top rookie with 19th despite crashing his JIR Motobi in the closing stages with his former 125cc rival Nicolas Terol seven places further back. Completing a disappointing night for Aspar, Toni Elias could only manage 17th on his return to the class.