Dani Pedrosa kept his hopes of claiming two-wins-a-season for a fourth successive year intact, by qualifying second for Sunday's Valencia season finale.
The home hero, who won at Laguna Seca earlier in 2009, put his Repsol Honda within 0.263sec of Casey Stoner's Ducati as he jumped ahead of Fiat Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi in the closing minutes of the hour.
The fast-starting Spaniard will begin the 16th and final round eleven points behind third in the championship Stoner, while Honda are eleven points in front of Ducati in the fight for second in the constructors' championship.
“The front row is the important thing though, and now I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's race,” said Pedrosa, who finished second to Stoner at Valencia last year but won in 2007. “I think everyone's motivation for this race is very high and it should be a good battle - and a difficult one. I hope I'm there at the front fighting for the win because this would be a great way to finish the season for me and for the team.
“The other riders are strong though, so it won't be easy. I'm excited about tomorrow and I hope to find that little bit extra on race day. For sure there will be many fans here as always and the atmosphere will be very special.
Pedrosa is now seeking further set-up improvements in time for the race. “We're still not at 100 per cent in set-up terms - especially in T3 where we're losing some time,” he declared.
On the other side of the Repsol Honda garage, Andrea Dovizioso qualified just tenth, putting fifth in the championship under threat from Colin Edwards, who will start the race from fifth on the grid and just four points behind the Italian.
“So, we really need another good start tomorrow,” said Dovizioso. “We proved that was possible at the last race where I qualified quite far back but came through quickly. However, I'm frustrated with how today went because we were much closer in the morning but couldn't convert that into a competitive qualifying performance. In race trim we have one second to improve to be on the pace.”