Dani Pedrosa will start Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix from the front row of the grid, one place ahead of his third-in-the-championship rival Casey Stoner - despite some end-of-session mistakes and traffic costing him the chance to threaten Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
24-year-old Pedrosa's had been quickest in the morning free practice session and looked on course to fight for a third successive pole position at Sepang in the afternoon.
“At the end of the qualifying session I didn't make a very good job of it with the last soft Bridgestone tyre so my laptime doesn't reflect our full potential this afternoon,” said Pedrosa, whose best lap was a whopping 0.736sec from Rossi.
“First I made a couple of mistakes and then I had some traffic which caused me to lose a little bit of the concentration you need to go at maximum pace at this moment.
“Anyway, I'm happy to be on the front row again. It will be a very tough race, very demanding for sure, but we always look for the win and we will give all we have to make it happen. I'm very motivated for this race,” he declared.
Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso will start just eleventh on the grid – and two places behind his rival for fifth in the championship Colin Edwards.
“In this morning's practice we were in fifth place and my pace in race trim is not too bad so, even though I'll be starting from the fourth row, I'm still hopeful for tomorrow's race,” said the Italian. “Of course I'm disappointed to be in eleventh because this is a track I really like, so a good start tomorrow is going to be essential.
“The track conditions gave less grip this afternoon compared to this morning and I wasn't able to improve my laptime with the soft tyres - in fact I was faster this morning. My rhythm with the race tyre is OK, but starting from the fourth row could spoil the race.
“We've worked on traction control settings again today and this will be useful for when the tyres go off in the race - but it doesn't help to achieve an outright fast lap on for qualifying.”
Pedrosa will start the penultimate round of the championship six points behind Stoner, with Dovizioso seven points ahead of Edwards.