With rain and thunder on the horizon, Tom Luthi fought around a hazy Sepang with record pace to secure pole position for the Malaysian Moto2 Grand Prix.
The Derendinger Racing Interwettwen rider heeded the rain warnings and set out with intent, posting his record best of 2m 06.383 after just seven minutes of circulating with rumbles of thunder already present in the distance.
It gives Luthi his first front row start of the year in style from the top spot on the grid. The Swiss rider said he was happy with his Kalex machine across the whole weekend so far and is confident of a consistent race pace.
Moto2's new champion Johann Zarco had looked determined after struggling in Australia and was focussed on a strong performance. The Ajo Motorsport rider chipped away at Luthi's considerable lead, to cut it to just 0.127 and move into second on the grid.
The final front row spot went to Alex Rins, Moto2 race winner at the last round in Phillip Island, who again impressed in his rookie season, securing third with a composed run.
Jonas Folger had looked solid before a turn six spill saw him go in the opposite direction to his bike which continued across the track and up the slip road. In fourth at the time the AGR Team man was grateful for the rain as he held his position with no improvements made by anyone once it began to pour down for the final twenty minutes.
Lorenzo Baldassarri, a podium finisher in Australia, qualified fifth improving on the same lap as Rins as the pair circulated closely on track.
The final spot on row two went to Dynavolt Intact GP rider Sandro Cortese who takes sixth.
The rain left no room for improvement with Taka Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) stuck in seventh, Britain's Sam Lowes in eighth for Speed Up and Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) surviving a wobble to secure ninth and complete row three.
The final spot in the top ten went to Gresini's Xavier Simeon.
Home rider Ramdan Rosli ((Petronas AHM Malaysia) makes a wild-card appearance in Sepang and starts from last place.
Tito Rabat and Dominique Aegerter are both still absent through injury. Aegerter is again replaced by Joshua Hook, who sits one place higher than Rosli in 29th on the grid.