Stefan Bradl took pole position for the first Moto2 round of the season at Losail in Qatar, but had to fight hard to fend off 125cc champion Marc Marquez.
The duo had been at the forefront of most of practice as well, and resumed their battle in qualifying, with Monlau Suter rider Marquez looking on course for pole with his 2m00.375s until second-year Moto2 man Bradl (Kiefer Kalex) did a 2m00.168s. The result was Bradl's first pole at world championship level.
Interwetten's Thomas Luthi filled the final spot on the front row, now limited to three riders like MotoGP under the 2011 rules.
Behind Yuki Takahashi (Gresini), Jules Cluzel (Forward) and Julian Simon (Aspar), the second-best Moto2 debutant was Bradley Smith, who qualified a strong seventh for Tech 3 - ahead of ex-MotoGP man Alex de Angelis' JiR Motobi.
Michele Pirro was ninth for Gresini, while Scott Redding could not replicate his practice pace and was back in 10th on Marc VDS' Suter.
It was a tough return to the feeder categories for ex-Pramac MotoGP riders Aleix Espargaro and Mika Kallio, who will take their first Moto2 starts from 13th and 25th respectively.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Stefan Bradl Kiefer Kalex 2m00.168s
2. Marc Marquez Monlau Suter 2m00.375s + 0.207s
3. Thomas Luthi Interwetten Suter 2m00.996s + 0.828s
4. Yuki Takahashi Gresini Moriwaki 2m01.179s + 1.011s
5. Jules Cluzel Forward Suter 2m01.408s + 1.240s
6. Julian Simon Aspar Suter 2m01.430s + 1.262s
7. Bradley Smith Tech 3 2m01.442s + 1.274s
8. Alex de Angelis JiR Motobi 2m01.465s + 1.297s
9. Michele Pirro Gresini Moriwaki 2m01.479s + 1.311s
10. Scott Redding Marc VDS Suter 2m01.564s + 1.396s
11. Simone Corsi Ioda FTR 2m01.574s + 1.406s
12. Max Neukirchner MZ 2m01.741s + 1.573s
13. Mattia Pasini Ioda FTR 2m01.893s + 1.725s
14. Aleix Espargaro Pons Kalex 2m01.895s + 1.727s
15. Dominique Aegerter Technomag-CIP Suter 2m01.895s + 1.727s
16. Andrea Iannone Speed Master Suter 2m01.903s + 1.735s
17. Esteve Rabat Blusens-STX FTR 2m02.154s + 1.986s
18. Claudio Corti Italtrans Suter 2m02.237s + 2.069s
19. Mike di Meglio Tech 3 2m02.352s + 2.184s
20. Yonny Hernandez Blusens-STX FTR 2m02.392s + 2.224s
21. Javier Fores Aspar Suter 2m02.397s + 2.229s
22. Ricard Cardus QMMF Moriwaki 2m02.505s + 2.337s
23. Axel Pons Pons Kalex 2m02.529s + 2.361s
24. Pol Espargaro Speed Up FTR 2m02.536s + 2.368s
25. Mika Kallio Marc VDS Suter 2m02.549s + 2.381s
26. Valentin Debise Speed Up FTR 2m02.828s + 2.660s
27. Ratthapark Wilairot SAG FR 2m02.838s + 2.670s
28. Kenan Sofuoglu Technomag-CIP Suter 2m02.847s + 2.679s
29. Randy Krummenacher Kiefer Kalex 2m02.897s + 2.729s
30. Robertino Pietri Italtrans Suter 2m03.151s + 2.983s
31. Alex Baldolini Forward Suter 2m03.246s + 3.078s
32. Santiago Hernandez SAG FTR 2m03.264s + 3.096s
33. Kev Coghlan Castello FTR 2m03.276s + 3.108s
34. Kenny Noyes Avintia-STX FTR 2m03.461s + 3.293s
35. Xavier Simeon Tech 3 2m03.657s + 3.489s
36. Raffaele de Rosa G22 Moriwaki 2m03.684s + 3.516s
37. Anthony West MZ 2m04.043s + 3.875s
38. Mashel Al Naimi QMMF Moriwaki 2m04.875s + 4.707s
39. Nasser Hasan Al Malki QMMF Moriwaki 2m05.299s + 5.131s