At a track where he has been injured for the past two seasons, Jorge Lorenzo showed no fear - or concern for his MotoGP title lead - as he set a blistering pace to deny Casey Stoner during qualifying at Laguna Seca on Saturday.
Lorenzo achieved his fifth pole in a row by 0.191sec on his penultimate lap and got to within 0.278sec of the qualifying lap record set by Stoner in 2008, when the Australian had been using a special qualifying tyre.
Further enhancing Lorenzo's chances of extending his 47 point lead before the summer break was the fact that nearest title rival Dani Pedrosa could only qualify fourth for Repsol Honda, having lapped 0.677sec from pole.
"Pole position isn't the race but it does help so I'm really happy to have got this fifth pole," said Lorenzo. "Everyone is working very well and this shows it once again.
"I didn't think it would be possible today because Casey was so fast but I decided to give it a try and pushed as hard as I could and here we are!
"I don't know what to expect tomorrow, it will be a hard race for sure because Dani and Casey are very strong, but we will do the best we can to fight to the end and at least make the podium.
"I'm excited because it's always a special race here with a great atmosphere," he concluded.
"Earlier on this season I said maybe it was better if Jorge wasn't on pole because it was less pressure that way, but now we have had five in a row and I have to say that we're very happy!" admitted team manager Wilco Zeelenberg.
"He was very comfortable out there today and our bike is working very well, so at the end of the session he decided to go for the pole. That last lap of his was incredible; I don't think we expected him to be that fast!
"It's going to be very close tomorrow and it's a long race, we expect a big battle but we will do our best to be on the podium."
Lorenzo, who fractured his foot during the 2008 race, finished a close third at Laguna Seca last season, whilst nursing injuries from a qualifying highside.
Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi will start his second race back from a broken leg in sixth.