Jorge Lorenzo broke the track record at Sepang as the Factory Yamaha star produced a powerhouse performance to claim his third pole start in a row.
The MotoGP title favourite left it late before deposing Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa with a climatic flurry on his final two laps.
Lorenzo, who leads Pedrosa by 28 points at the top championship with three races remaining, clocked a time of 2m 00.438s on his penultimate qualifying lap before blasting to a new pole record for the Malaysian Grand Prix on his final lap in a time of 2m 00.334s.
He seized the top spot from Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, who both enjoyed spells at the top of the times before Lorenzo's stunning benchmark came right at the death on fresh qualifying rubber.
“We made a very good lap at the end of the session with the new 'qualifying' tyre,” said Lorenzo, who is celebrating his seventh pole start of the campaign.
“In the middle of the practice we struggled a little bit because we had a bit of chattering and the rear tyre wasn't working as well as it had been in the morning session.
“We need to still work a little on our pace as it's not extremely good yet but we have some options for tomorrow,” added Lorenzo, whose searing lap was almost 0.2s quicker than Pedrosa.
“Let's see what happens; it's going to be a long race in difficult conditions.”
Even if Pedrosa wins the three remaining races, Lorenzo can afford to finish third in each and still be champion. But team director Massimo Meregalli said that clearly isn't Lorenzo's intention.
"Another impressive pole position from Jorge, he really wanted to show everyone that he's not here to get second place if he can help it," he said.
Lorenzo has a slim chance of wrapping up the title on Sunday, if he wins and Pedrosa scores less than three points.