Marc Marquez claimed his second MotoGP pole in four starts as he converted his practice pace to the qualifying top spot at Le Mans.
Riding his spare Honda after crashing at the chicane late in the pre-qualifying practice session, Marquez put in an 1m33.187s in Q2 to take provisional pole.
Jorge Lorenzo trailed that by 0.2 seconds at first, before closing to within 0.030s with his penultimate lap.
Marquez could not improve on his last run, and Lorenzo looked like he had a chance of deposing his Jerez sparring partner as he began a final lap 20s before the flag and set new benchmark early sectors.
But the lap faded in the second half and the Yamaha man had to settle for second.
Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa was in the pole fight until crashing at the Dunlop chicane halfway through Q2.
Although he hurried back for his spare Honda, Pedrosa slipped back to sixth.
Yamaha's second works bike was also further down the order. Valentino Rossi's Friday optimism was dashed in qualifying as he struggled to eighth, 0.8s off the pace.
With Pedrosa and Rossi in trouble, it was Andrea Dovizioso who claimed the final front row spot in an impressive performance for Ducati.
The Italian beat team-mate Nicky Hayden by 0.6s and seven places.
Cal Crutchlow had a heavy crash at La Chappelle in fourth practice, causing a red flag that delayed the rest of practice and qualifying. Despite this, he came within 0.006s of beating Dovizioso to third.
Stefan Bradl's LCR Honda completed the top five.
Aspar Aprilia CRT duo Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet beat Pramac Ducati prototype duo Andrea Iannone and Michele Pirro to the final Q2 spots.
De Puniet had upstaged his team-mate in Q1 with a late flying lap at home, but Espargaro got back on top in Q2 - although neither could claim any further prototype scalps.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap 1. Marc Marquez Honda 1m33.187s 2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m33.217s + 0.030 3. Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m33.603s + 0.416 4. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m33.609s + 0.422 5. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 1m33.634s + 0.447 6. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m33.639s + 0.452 7. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 1m33.984s + 0.797 8. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m34.009s + 0.822 9. Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m34.222s + 1.035 10. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m34.242s + 1.055 11. Aleix Espargaro Aspar Aprilia 1m34.754s + 1.567 12. Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia 1m35.086s + 1.899 13. Andrea Iannone Pramac Ducati 1m35.062s + 1.875 14. Michele Pirro Ducati 1m35.228s + 2.041 15. Hector Barbera Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m35.714s + 2.527 16. Danilo Petrucci Ioda-Suter-BMW 1m35.770s + 2.583 17. Colin Edwards Forward FTR-Kawasaki 1m36.221s + 3.034 18. Karel Abraham Cardion Aprilia 1m36.271s + 3.084 19. Claudio Corti Forward FTR-Kawasaki 1m36.330s + 3.143 20. Michael Laverty Paul Bird PBM-Aprilia 1m36.596s + 3.409 21. Bryan Staring Gresini FTR-Honda 1m36.714s + 3.527 22. Lukas Pesek Ioda-Suter-BMW 1m36.768s + 3.581 23. Yonny Hernandez Paul Bird Aprilia 1m36.961s + 3.774 24. Hiroshi Aoyama Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m37.523s + 4.336
Subscribe to Autosport Plus
Register for free