(CNN) -- Casey Stoner is on course for a fourth-successive victory in the Qatar MotoGP after claiming pole position for Sunday's floodlit season-opener.
The Australian recorded a quickest time of one minute 55.007 seconds on his Ducati to touch off world champion Valentino Rossi.
Rossi's Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo is third on the grid with the Honda of Randy de Puniet in fourth position.
De Puniet heads the second row from veteran Italian Loris Capirossi, who is riding in a record 300th grand prix and, another Italian, Andrea Dovizioso.
Despite his strong qualifying performance, Stoner told the official Moto GP Web site that victory was by no means a certainty.
"You never know what's going to happen on Sunday, so we're not playing our chances down, we're just being realistic," he told MotoGP.com
"We've been let down in the past a few times when things have looked good -- it's one thing to start the season strong but you have to finish it strong.
"We're going to try and stay a bit more focused this year, and pole position is definitely the best way to start off the season."