Paris: World champion Valentino Rossi of Italy snatched pole position for the French MotoGP at the Le Mans circuit on Saturday.
Rossi clocked a fastest time of one minute 33.408 seconds with his Yamaha team mate Jorge Lorenzo of Spain coming home in second place.
Spaniard Dani Pedrosa, third on a Honda, completed the front row as the top three riders were separated by less than two tenth of a second and the pole changed hands many times in the final 10 minutes.
Australian Casey Stoner was fourth on a Ducati on a dry track in the Le Mans sunshine.
Lorenzo leads the world championships standings with 45 points, four ahead of Rossi, who has been struggling with shoulder pains since a motocross accident following the season opening QatarGP.
Rossi, who crashed last year in Le Mans and finished a disappointing 16th, said: "I`m so happy about these weather conditions and I feel confident about the bike.
"Pole position is always good and that is a good lap time, for the race I am quite worried about my shoulder because after about 10 or 15 laps I started to lose power."
Spain`s Alvaro Bautista pulled out of the Grand Prix after breaking his collarbone in the morning`s practice, organisers said.
Toni Elias of Spain took pole position in the Moto2 category with compatriot Nicolas Terol proving the fastest in 125cc.