LE MANS - Spain's Maverick Vinales ensured a Yamaha lock-out at the front of the grid for Sunday's French MotoGP after pipping championship leader Valentino Rossi to pole position at Le Mans.

Italian veteran Rossi and Vinales, 22, are attempting to reassert control of their title destiny after their early season form disintegrated last time out in Spain.

The 38-year-old Rossi leads the championship with 62 points after four rounds, while Vinales is a close second after winning the first two races in Qatar and Argentina. "It was a tricky qualifying, because the track was not at its best, but anyway our bike is really good here," said Vinales, who remained cautious over Sunday's weather conditions after he and Rossi had struggled in Friday's rain-hit practice sessions. "We have to be really careful with the weather, we also have to pay a lot of attention if we have a flag to flag, a wet race or even on the dry, we still have to improve."

MotoGP rookie Johann Zarco will start Sunday's race in third to complete a Yamaha hat-trick on the front row. Defending world champion Marc Marquez of Spain is on the second row after qualifying fifth-fastest on his Honda on Saturday. "We modified the setting a bit, and that, together with this track and this asphalt, makes our bike work well," said Rossi. "In the end it was a really good qualifying." Australia's Jack Miller, also on a Honda machine, qualified in 11th after he somehow emerged unscathed from a horror crash in fourth practice in which he lost control of his bike, slammed into a tyre wall and was tossed high into the air.

"It was a nasty crash and I'm lucky to walk away with just some bruises," said Miller. "I had some locking on the front through turn one which sent me towards the wall and when I saw I wasn't going to stop in time I let go before I hit the wall." Just a tenth of a second split Vinales and Rossi, but all the focus was on the performance of home favourite Zarco. The Frenchman, 26, celebrated his best qualifying result since stepping up to MotoGP this season from Moto2 and could not contain his joy.

"To be on the front row is just fantastic," said Zarco, who was unhurt after taking a tumble in practice.

"I was a little angry and worried after my fall during the third free practice," he added. "The fans are amazing so I have to appreciate their support. It gives me motivation, but it also increases the pressure. I remain an outsider at this level."

Breathing hard down his neck in fourth was Britain's Cal Crutchlow on a Honda, while Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso was sixth-fastest.