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Marc Marquez became the first motorcycle rider to officially break the two-minute barrier at Sepang, on his way to pole position for the Malaysian MotoGP.
The newly crowned double world champion had been fastest by just a fraction over Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa after a 2m 0.245s lap on his opening qualifying run.
Marquez then returned to ensure a record-breaking 13th pole of the season with a stunning 1m 59.791s on his penultimate lap. That is just a quarter of a second behind the unofficial circuit record of 1m 59.533s, also by Marquez, during February testing - when the best lap times are set away from the intense midday heat.
By contrast, today's qualifying was held in roasting temperatures of 35 degrees (air) and 50 degrees (track).
Pedrosa responded on his final lap to also break into the 1m 59s and get within 0.182s of Marquez. Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo will complete the front row, 0.412s from pole, but is more confident of fighting the Hondas in the race.
Row two will see each of the three Factory manufacturers represented, with Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) followed by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). Rossi fell at the end of final practice and didn't look happy during qualifying.
Top Open class rider Aleix Espargaro (Forward Yamaha) was the first person outside of one-second from pole. Britons Cal Crutchlow (Ducati) and Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Yamaha), plus Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) completed the top ten.
Bautista and Hiroshi Aoyama gained their Qualifying 2 entry by leading the Qualifying 1 session, but Drive M7 Aspar rider Aoyama fell early in the pole shootout.
Pol Espargaro missed qualifying after fracturing his foot in morning practice. Andrea Iannone has withdrawn from the remainder of the weekend due to arm injuries on Friday.
Marquez won eleven of the opening twelve races, but has been on the podium just once in the four races since - falling at Misano, Aragon and then Phillip Island. Marquez needs one more win to match Mick Doohan's all-time record of twelve victories in a season.
Sunday's race, the penultimate round of the season, starts at 4pm local time. After rain storms on Friday afternoon, Saturday remained dry.
1. Marc Marquez
2. Dani Pedrosa
3. Jorge Lorenzo
4. Stefan Bradl
5. Andrea Dovizioso
6. Valentino Rossi
7. Aleix Espargaro
8. Cal Crutchlow
9. Bradley Smith
10. Alvaro Bautista
11. Hiroshi Aoyama
12. Pol Espargaro