Alvaro Bautista claimed his second pole of the year in qualifying for the 250cc race at Le Mans.
The Aspar Aprilia rider had a clear 0.4-second margin over reigning champion Marco Simoncelli (Gilera) in second place, with current points leader Hiroshi Aoyama third on his Scot Honda after leading the session in the middle stages. Jerez winner Aoyama goes into tomorrow's race with a four-point advantage over Bautista.
The pole position was a welcome result for the Aspar team, which has been rocked this weekend by the sudden departure of its former 125cc champion Gabor Talmacsi due to a contractual dispute.
Thomas Luthi will complete the front row in fourth, having made a strong challenge for pole early on before equalling his best ever grid position.
Reigning 125cc champion Mike di Meglio looked like he might claim his first 250cc pole on home ground, but eventually fell back to fifth, ahead of Alex Debon, Raffaele de Rosa and Lukas Pesek.
Pos Rider Bike Time Gap
1. Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 1m38.270s
2. Marco Simoncelli Gilera 1m38.652s + 0.382s
3. Hiroshi Aoyama Honda 1m38.682s + 0.412s
4. Thomas Luthi Aprilia 1m38.796s + 0.526s
5. Mike di Meglio Aprilia 1m39.003s + 0.733s
6. Alex Debon Aprilia 1m39.365s + 1.095s
7. Raffaele de Rosa Honda 1m39.367s + 1.097s
8. Lukas Pesek Aprilia 1m39.381s + 1.111s
9. Roberto Locatelli Gilera 1m39.511s + 1.241s
10. Hector Faubel Honda 1m39.517s + 1.247s
11. Hector Barbera Aprilia 1m39.596s + 1.326s
12. Ratthapark Wilairot Honda 1m39.667s + 1.397s
13. Mattia Pasini Aprilia 1m39.896s + 1.626s
14. Alex Baldolini Aprilia 1m40.066s + 1.796s
15. Karel Abraham Aprilia 1m40.462s + 2.192s
16. Angel Rodriguez Aprilia 1m40.620s + 2.350s
17. Shoya Tomizawa Honda 1m40.661s + 2.391s
18. Jules Cluzel Aprilia 1m40.852s + 2.582s
19. Imre Toth Aprilia 1m41.444s + 3.174s
20. Valentin Debise Honda 1m42.391s + 4.121s
21. Axel Pons Aprilia 1m42.654s + 4.384s
22. Vladimir Leonov Aprilia 1m42.812s + 4.542s
23. Bastien Chesaux Honda 1m43.342s + 5.072s
24. Aitor Rodriguez Aprilia 1m44.132s + 5.862s
25. Toby Markham Honda 1m45.322s + 7.052s