Jorge Lorenzo has qualified on pole position for the first of his four chances to secure the 2010 MotoGP World Championship.
The Fiat Yamaha star has a lead of 69 points over the injured, and absent, Dani Pedrosa, meaning he only needs ninth in Sunday's Malaysian race to wrap up his first premier-class title.
Lorenzo, knocked off the front row for the first time this year last weekend in Japan, showed no sign of nerves as he claimed his sixth pole of the season by just 0.1sec from Ducati's Nicky Hayden on his last flying lap of qualifying.
"I really wanted to fight for the pole position today, because I know the race tomorrow is going to be tough and it will be difficult to battle for the victory," said Lorenzo. "We were strong throughout the session and in the end we did a great lap; I am so happy to be back on pole."
Looking ahead to Sunday's race, Lorenzo admitted it will be unlike any other.
"Now the moment is arriving, it's such an important day for my career and I'm excited for tomorrow," he said. "We are starting in the best shape and we just have to see what happens. For now we will try to stay calm and focused!"
Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg revealed that Lorenzo will use the latest Yamaha engine for the first time in a race on Sunday - team-mate Valentino Rossi running the upgraded powerplant since the start of the Motegi weekend.
"The bike is really good and the new engine is working well, so we will use it tomorrow," said Zeelenberg.
"It's difficult to judge how the race will be, for sure he is nervous, as anyone would be, but it didn't seem to affect him today so I am sure he will be okay tomorrow.
"Let's see what happens!"
Rossi will start sixth on the grid.