Fabio Quartararo has a golden opportunity to win his home French Grand Prix for the first time and stretch his lead atop the MotoGP standings at Le Mans on Sunday.
The Petronas Yamaha rider showed great pace during qualifying to take a third pole position of the season and first since round two in the second of a Jerez double-header.
Having snatched back the lead in the standings from Andrea Dovizioso by winning in Barcelona last time out, Quartararo was handed a further boost when nearest rival Joan Mir – who is eight points back – did not make it out of Q1.
The Spaniard is way back in 14th, while compatriot Maverick Vinales is third in the standings and in need of a decent jump off the line after the Monster Energy Yamaha rider clocked the fifth fastest time.
So, it is undoubtedly advantage Quartararo at Le Mans as the race for the title continues on Sunday.
WHAT HAPPENED IN QUALIFYING
It was a bad day for Suzuki Ecstar rider Mir, who could not take one of the top two spots in a Q1 that was delayed after Miguel Oliveira's damaged engine leaked oil on the track during FP4.
Quartararo consequently dominated in Q2 and was well clear during the provisional laps before snatching two tenths off Jack Miller's time, with the Australian having briefly gone quickest.
Miller's reward is second on the grid ahead of Danilo Petrucci on a great day for Ducati riders in qualifying.
Cal Crutchlow flew up to fourth and Vinales knows there is work to do from the second row, which is completed by a much-improved Dovizioso.
THE STARTING GRID
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha), 2. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), 3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
4. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), 5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha), 6. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
7. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), 8. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), 9. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing)
10. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha), 11. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha), 12. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)
13. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda), 14. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar), 15. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia)
16. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar), 17. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), 18. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda)
19. Bradley Smith (Aprilia), 20. Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), 21. Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda)
22. Tito Rabat (Esponsorama Racing)
FRENCH GRAND PRIX TALKING POINTS
Ducati bikes generally love a drag race so watch out for Miller and Petrucci aiming to steal a march on the pole-sitter off the line in Sunday's race.
Miller in particular looks a huge threat from second on the grid having clocked the fastest time in practice on Friday, while also making Quartararo dig deep to take pole on his final flying lap.
Quartararo is a qualifying specialist and the clear favourite for a fourth win of the 2020 MotoGP season, and he is aiming to be the first French winner of this race since Jacques Collot in 1958.
Victory is obviously the target but the Frenchman will be especially keen to finish higher in the points than main rivals Mir, Vinales, Franco Morbidelli and Andrea Dovizioso, who will likely need an error from Quartararo.
Such a possibility is not out of the question given there have been plenty of tumbles over the weekend already at Le Mans and any mistake is likely to be punished.
WHAT THE RIDERS SAID
Fabio Quartararo (pole): "Of course it feels special [to have a home pole] because the conditions were really tricky. We worked in a really good way. Yesterday, I was confident because I knew where to improve, took the risk when I needed to, which was today. I am so happy to exit from the front row, there are two Ducatis on the front row, we will struggle a little bit but I am feeling happy and I think we have the pace to fight for victory."
Jack Miller (2nd): "It's alright we'll take it. I gave the maximum. I felt especially the last sector the front was bouncing, it didn't feel great, it was a little difficult with the wind this afternoon but after a crash this morning I'll be happy to start second."
Danilo Petrucci (3rd): "I always like this place. I know here there is a big opportunity. We noticed we lost a lot of time on the straights and there is no main straight here. I like this place a lot, I'm really happy to be here again."
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) – 108
2. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) – 100
3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) – 90
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) – 84
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) – 77
1. Petronas Yamaha – 185
2. Suzuki Ecstar – 160
3. Monster Energy Yamaha – 148
4. Ducati – 123
5. Pramac Racing – 118