MotoGP leader Jorge Lorenzo seized pole position for Sunday's Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix, with the Yamaha rider putting in a record lap in qualifying.
The Spaniard clocked a lap of 2 minutes 00.334 seconds at the end of the one-hour qualifying session on Saturday, breaking the circuit record of 2:00.518 set by Italian rider Valentino Rossi in qualifying in 2009.
Lorenzo's closest rival, fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa on a Honda, was in menacing form and posted the second fastest time while his Australian teammate Casey Stoner, with an ankle injury, posted the fourth quickest.
Italian Andrea Dovizioso was third fastest, with Britain's Cal Crutchlow, also on a Yamaha, taking fifth. American Ben Spies, on a Yamaha, took sixth on the grid.
Pedrosa clocked 2:00.528, 0.194 seconds slower than Lorenzo in a close-fought battle, while Dovizioso posted 2:00.567.
It will be Lorenzo's seventh pole start of the season.
Lorenzo, who is eyeing a win in Sepang, said a pole position would enhance his chances for victory and deny Pedrosa's shot for the championship title.
"I managed to set a new lap time in the last lap with new tyres. Pole position is a very good position but we need to set-up the bike (for Sunday)," he said.
Lorenzo missed last year's Malaysian Grand Prix, where 24-year-old Marco Simoncelli was killed in a second lap crash, due to injury. The race was subsequently cancelled.
Lorenzo could take his second title this weekend if he wins and Pedrosa fails to finish in the top 12.
Meanwhile, Pedrosa, who set the fastest time during practice sessions, complained of chatter during the qualifying session, a problem that has plagued Honda from the start of this season.
"The weather was hot and we had a lot of chatter and this made riding difficult. I hope there will be less chatter," he said.
Title-hopeful Pedrosa, who is battling for his first ever MotoGP crown, is 28 points adrift of Lorenzo, who has 310 points. Pedrosa is on 282, while Stoner has 197.
Dovizioso said he was pleased with his third spot on the grid.
"We did a good job. We hope to have this (dry) weather tomorrow," he said.
Crutchlow, who missed out on a potential podium finish at Motegi last weekend after his Yamaha ran out of fuel on the final lap as he battled for third, also complained of vibration problems.
"I had a big vibration and all the changes we made to improve the situation didn't work. It felt like I had zero grip. We can see the problems on the data but we still haven't been able to identify what is causing the vibration," he said.
Crutchlow will start on the second row of the grid in fifth place at Sepang, marking the end of four straight front row starts.
Nine-time world champion Rossi's bad season for Ducati continued after he crashed during the first few minutes of the third practice. He qualified eleventh on the grid.