(CNN) -- World champion Jorge Lorenzo hailed MotoGP's new qualifying format after claiming pole position for Sunday's season-opening race in Qatar.
The Spaniard headed off Britain's Cal Crutchlow in Saturday's new 15-minute session, involving just the top 12 riders, while last season's championship runnerup Dani Pedrosa was third to complete the front row.
"It's great to finish in pole position, especially knowing Cal was extremely fast over one lap," Lorenzo, who won last year's race from pole, told the MotoGP website.
He said of the new qualifying format: "It's very different to last year and I think more fun for the fans to watch.
"From the point of view of the riders, I feel more nervous and with more pressure on me because you know you have only four attempts for your last lap -- and not 15 like last year! So it's more important to go quickly and not make a mistake."
Italy's Andrea Dovizioso was fourth for Ducati ahead of German rider Stefan Bradl and Spanish rookie Marc Marquez, who had topped the practice times in his first outing for Honda Repsol.
Lorenzo's new teammate Valentino Rossi continued his struggles of the past two years at Ducati as he could only qualify seventh.
"Qualifying was not fantastic for us," said the seven-time world champion, who has won three times in Qatar but not since his last season at Yamaha in 2010.
"Our performance in free practice was better than this, so we'll wait for tomorrow. Unfortunately in qualifying, on the second tire -- with which I could have improved -- I was stuck in traffic so could not improve my lap time and lost some positions.
"For sure, tomorrow becomes more difficult to start from further back, but we have good pace so we can be quite competitive."
Pedrosa is seeking to improve his record at Losail -- one of only two circuits on the current calendar where the Spaniard has yet to win in any category of bikes.
"It's important that we're on the front row," the Honda rider said.
"I think the Yamahas are strong, so I just hope to improve the bike a little bit more and then be on the pace for the race."