Jorge Lorenzo showed why Movistar Yamaha are so keen to tie him down to a new contract as he took pole position at the Qatar MotoGP ahead of Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez.
Movistar Yamaha want the world champion to sign a new deal like team-mate Valentino Rossi, but the Spaniard has yet to commit his future to the constructor amid reported interest from Ducati.
Lorenzo put on a fine showing in the first qualifying of 2016 with a sensational time early in the session on Saturday and was able to watch on as rider after rider failed to dislodge him from top spot.
Even Rossi could not get close to his time of one minute 54.543 seconds, leaving Lorenzo to celebrate a repeat of his 2013 pole success.
"I'm glad to start the championship this way," said Lorenzo. "I had a difficult moment with the second tyre. It didn't give me the same confidence, the same grip and I lost the rear.
"Luckily with the first tyre I could get the pole and be happy."
Marquez (+0.091secs) looked most likely to overtake his Spanish compatriot as he lit up the timesheets with a later run, but he lost time in the final sector and had to settle for second.
Maverick Vinales (+0.095secs), Andrea Iannone (+0.150secs) and Rossi (+0.272secs) completed the top five, with Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa seventh (+0.535secs).
Meanwhile, Danilo Petrucci will not race after suffering more damage to his hand in the build-up to the weekend, the Pramac Ducati rider likely to miss the first three races as he recovers.
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) 1:54.543
2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 1:54.634
3. Maverick Vinales (Suzuki) 1:54.638
4. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1:54.693
5. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) 1:54.815
6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:54.963
7. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 1:55.078
8. Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) 1:55.165
9. Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha) 1:55.302
10. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) 1:55.352