Jorge Lorenzo said his dramatic engine failure in Sachsenring qualifying came as a total shock.
The championship leader still went on to take pole on his spare bike, but his race bike had to be parked after expiring in a plume of oil, smoke and flame halfway through the session.
Ben Spies and Randy de Puniet then crashed on the oil, and qualifying had to be red-flagged for 25 minutes while the mess was cleared up.
"People feel that these engines never break, so today it was a surprise to me going down the straight and seeing that the engine had stopped," said Lorenzo.
"There was some oil on my feet so I had to put the bike by the wall and return to the pits. It's a pity that de Puniet crashed and was injured a little bit, but I think he'll race tomorrow, so that's good news."
Lorenzo added that pole - his fourth in a row - had been particularly fulfilling because he had been off the pace in Friday practice, but turned his weekend around today and beat Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa to the top spot.
"The pole position was difficult and hard to get, because Stoner and Pedrosa were so fast," said Lorenzo.
"But I pushed at the maximum and I rode so well that we could improve the lap time from yesterday so much."