Takaaki Nakagami is heading into the Teruel Grand Prix with a maiden pole position in MotoGP under his belt following a brilliant display in qualifying.
While championship leader Joan Mir could only manage a 12th-placed finish, Nakagimi held off Franco Morbidelli to clinch a first pole in the premier class by 0.063 seconds.
Alex Rins, meanwhile, is in a strong position to mount a push for a second straight victory at Aragon after he placed third.
Ducati endured a miserable day, though, with title contender Andrea Dovizioso slumping to 17th, while Fabio Quartararo will have to fight his way up from sixth on the grid.
WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING
Nakagami topped the timesheets in practice on Friday and kept up his level to deservedly take pole on Saturday.
Having signed a new two-year deal with LCR Honda on Thursday, Nakagami held his nerve despite Morbidelli's push to become the first��Japanese racer since Makoto Tamada in 2004 to clinch a MotoGP pole with a time of 1:46.882.
Maverick Vinales and Rins ultimately came fourth and third respectively after briefly sitting on provisional pole, with Morbidelli taking top spot before Nakagimi's late pole-clinching effort.
There was no such luck for Mir, who had his first lap cancelled on a frustrating day, with Quartararo – who claimed pole last week but slipped to an 18th-placed finish – came in behind Johann Zarco.
THE STARTING GRID
1. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda), 2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha), 3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha), 5. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing), 6. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
7. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), 8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), 9. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
10. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda), 11. Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), 12. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)
13. Aleix Espargaro (Esponsorama Racing), 14. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), 15. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
16. Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda), 17. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), 18. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing)
19. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati), 20. Tito Rabat (Esponsorama Racing), 21. Bradley Smith (Aprilia)
TERUEL GRAND PRIX TALKING POINTS
Rins was the star in the first of the back-to-back Aragon rounds, bursting from 10th to claim victory, while his Suzuki Ecstar team-mate Mir jumped to the top of the standings with a third-placed finish.
While Mir, who has finished in the top three more times than any other rider in 2020, will have to have a similar resurgence if he is to snatch a place on the podium, Rins seems well placed to push on for a second consecutive win.
However, Nakagami has looked in fine fettle all weekend, and will be determined not to let the opportunity slip from his grasp, while Morbidelli and Quartararo – who will be looking to make up for his dreadful showing last time out – cannot be discounted.
This circuit, though, has not been kind to non-Spanish drivers in recent seasons.
Since Casey Stoner's victories in 2010 and 2011, only Spanish riders have won in the following eight races at MotorLand, a statistic that will boost Rins and Vinales.
WHAT THE RIDERS SAID
Takaaki Nakagami (pole): "It was a nice feeling, I did my best [on the last lap], but at that moment I didn't know it was pole position. It could have been second or third row, because the lap time was so tight. It's an amazing feeling, and the feeling of the bike is so good, it's been a great performance so far."
Franco Morbidelli (2nd): "I felt great. I made a good lap, I was able to go underneath 1:47, that's a great achievement, I'm happy with that. We have been improving the things we were lacking last weekend. Now it's a matter of seeing if we improved more than anyone else."
Alex Rins (3rd): "I'm quite happy because I think we improved the bike on last weekend. It's good to be here, let's see for the race, I think we have a good pace."
1. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 121
2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) 115
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 109
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 106
5. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) 92
1. Suzuki Ecstar 206
2. Petronas Yamaha 202
3. Ducati 171
4. Monster Energy Yamaha 167
5. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 144