Spaniard Dani Pedrosa will start in pole position in Sunday's French MotoGP after posting the fastest time in qualifying in Le Mans on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Honda rider - winner of 15 MotoGPs - will start from pole for the 38th time, his 20th in this category, after edging out team-mate and world champion Casey Stoner of Australia by 0.303sec while Italian Yamaha rider Andrea Dovizioso was third fastest.
Pedrosa - who is yet to win this race and last year broke a collarbone in this MotoGP that ruled him out for several races - and Stoner were the only two riders to go under the 1min 34sec mark.
Dovizioso's best qualifying performance of the season so far was all the more creditable as he relegated the official Yamaha stable duo of 2010 world champion Jorge Lorenzo and American Ben Spies onto the second row of the grid.
Italian great Valentino Rossi - who is favoured to replace Stoner when the Australian retires at the end of the season - will start from the third line of the grid on his Ducati, along with Frenchman Randy de Puniet on an Aprilia.
British rider Ben Crutchlow - who has made an impressive start to his career at this level - was fastest in qualifying for a large part of the session but will start from the fifth row.