Considered something of a one-lap specialist, Jorge Lorenzo was starting to get a bit worried after going five races without a MotoGP pole - but Valentino Rossi's nearest title rival ended the drought at Estoril on Saturday.
Fastest in both free practice sessions, Lorenzo then claimed his fifth pole of the season - and a record eleventh in one year for Yamaha - by lapping 0.260sec clear of team-mate Rossi.
"I'm happy to improve my MotoGP pole position record. Last year I had four pole positions and now this year I have five," said Lorenzo, who starts the final four rounds of the season 30 points behind Rossi.
"It's been quite a few races since I've had a pole. I was getting a bit worried because doing one fast lap has always been one of my strong points, but lately we haven't been able to be quite competitive enough with the soft tyre.
“This weekend however everything is working really well and the setting with both tyres is great, so I was able to go out and do some very fast laps. Tomorrow is another day and we know that everyone will be strong, so we will just try and push to the limit and see what happens.
“I don't have anything to lose now, but quite a lot to win. I will try to get the victory,” added the triple 2009 race winner.
"It's very good to be back on pole position after what has been quite a long time,” confirmed Fiat Yamaha team manager Daniele Romagnoli. “Jorge was today able to do some very fast laps with the softer tyre, which has allowed us to get back on pole, but he also has a good and consistent race pace and so we feel confident for the race.
“We still have a little work to do on some rear grip issues in order to be a bit faster in the last section of the track, so we will use tomorrow's warm-up to do that and then we will be ready for an exciting race."
Lorenzo and Rossi will be joined on the front row by the returning Casey Stoner.
Lorenzo took his first ever MotoGP victory at Estoril last season, but that remains the only time he has won a MotoGP race from pole.