125cc World Championship leader Nico Terol took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang by just 0.015sec, on his last lap of Saturday's qualifying session.
The Aspar Aprilia rider just pipped team-mate Hector Faubel, with the on-form Sandro Cortese completing the front row in third for Racing Team Germany. Fourth place Efren Vazquez was over one-second from pole.
Terol starts Sunday's penultimate round with a 25-point advantage over Johann Zarco and will therefore be champion if he finishes ahead of the Frenchman tomorrow.
He stands an excellent chance of doing so, after a series of problems for Zarco in qualifying. The Frenchman fell early on, then pulled off-track shortly after he returned - following hasty repairs - with fifteen minutes remaining.
At that point he was 32nd and last, but the Ajo Derbi rider was able to find the cause of the problem himself and restart the bike. Zarco then ran off track on his first quick lap, had a near highside on the next, before eventually taking what was still a somewhat sick bike to 15th on the grid.
1. Terol (Aprilia) 2m 13.579s
2. Faubel (Aprilia) +0.015s
3. Cortese (Aprilia) +0.375s
4. Vazquez (Derbi) +1.002s
5. Salom (Aprilia) +1.103s
6. Folger (Aprilia) +1.197s
7. Vinales (Aprilia) +1.476s
8. Moncayo (Aprilia) +1.693s
9. Martin (Aprilia) +1.725s
10. Kent (Aprilia) +2.011s
19. Stafford (Aprilia) +3.059s
22. Mackenzie (Aprilia) +3.651s