Champion elect Marc Marquez broke the lap record at Sepang on Saturday morning to take pole for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
The 20-year-old posted a blistering 2.00.011 on his final way around as he bumped Valentino Rossi into second, with Cal Crutchlow making up the front row.
Marquez leads the championship by 39 points and his nearest rival, second placed Jorge Lorenzo, could only muster a spot on the second row – coming in fourth.
Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who had performed excellently in practice, could only finish fifth on the grid as his injuries sustained at the previous round in Aragon began to take their toll on his body.
Britain’s Crutchlow had held pole going into the final minute after an impressive 2.00.359 lap, only to be surpassed by Rossi’s 2.00.336 before Marquez stunned the Malaysian crowd.
Despite the disappointment, the Briton was happy with his morning’s times but did mention of his own injury problems that could hamper his race.
"I'm pleased for the whole team,” Crutchlow told BBC Sport. “We've worked endlessly all weekend and hopefully tomorrow will be a good race for us.
"It's going to be very difficult though. I've got a bad pain in my right arm from Silverstone that needs an operation but we pushed hard for (qualifying).
Honda’s Stefan Bradl, currently sixth in the championship, will miss the Sepang race through injury having fractured his ankle during practice.
MALAYSIAN MOTO GP QUALIFYING RESULTS
1. Marc Marquez (Spain) Honda 2:00.011
2. Valentino Rossi (Italy) Yamaha 2:00.336
3. Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha 2:00.359
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha 2:00.578
5. Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda 2:00.692
6. Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Honda 2:00.974