Pol Espargaro powered his KTM to a first ever elite pole position in Styrian MotoGP qualifying on Saturday as injured world champion Marc Marquez was ruled out of action for up to three months of this truncated season.
Japan's Takaaki Nakagami sprang a surprise to set the second fastest time for Honda's satellite LCR team to join Espargaro in what will be his first top-tier front row appearance.
Placed third was Johann Zarco but rather than joining Espargaro and Nakagami at the head of the grid the Frenchman will be starting Sunday's race from the pitlane.
Zarco was penalised for "irresponsible riding" in a crash with Franco Morbidelli last week. He was back on his bike after sitting out Friday's practice due to surgery on the wrist he injured in the collision.
Championship leader Fabio Quartararo failed to fire and sets off 10th for this fifth leg of the coronavirus-disrupted season.
This was the first time the Frenchman, who won the opening two races in Jerez, has finished off the front row since the British MotoGP last year.
In an ultra competitive session provisional pole changed ownership numerous times before Espargaro nailed it in the dying seconds for KTM, the performance all the sweeter coming on home soil for the Austrian outfit.
"I fell really pleased with it," beamed the maiden pole-sitter.
"I didn't imagine we could do the pole, I was thinking for first or maybe second row it would be amazing for us.
- 'Deserve this' -
"I was making mistakes in practice, so I'm super happy, and all the guys at KTM deserve this so much."
In fourth came Joan Mirs and the Spaniard got an added bonus for his best ever qualifying performance by filling Zarco's place on the front row.
Meanwhile, Honda announced Marquez will be sidelined for up to 12 weeks after fracturing his right arm in July's season opener, ending any chance of the Spaniard defending his title.
"The objective of both Marquez and the Repsol Honda Team is to return to the World Championship when Marc's arm has fully recovered from the serious injury that occurred in Jerez," Honda said in a statement.
"It is estimated it will take between two to three months before Marc can return."
The 2020 season is due to finish at the Portuguese Grand Prix on November 22, meaning Marquez could conceivably miss the remainder of the campaign.
Marquez, 27, has won the MotoGP title in six of the past seven seasons and each of the last four.
However, he has yet to score a single point this year after he was hurt in the first race of the season, the Spanish Grand Prix on July 19.
Italian legend Valentino Rossi was another big name enduring a nightmare Saturday afternoon as he had to settle for 15th on the grid for Sunday's race after crashing in his final lap in Q1.
The 41-year-old nine-time world champion was badly shaken by last Sunday's accident when Morbidelli's stray bike flew across the track centimetres in front of him which "almost killed" him.
"Starting from 14th on the grid will be hard, but my race pace is not so bad, I'm quite fast and consistent," said Rossi who believes oil on the track contributed to his downfall.
"I think there are four or five riders that are faster, but we are up there with the others. This is not our best track, it's difficult here with the Yamaha, but the pace is not so bad, I'm quite strong."