Thrown into the spotlight by Valentino Rossi's allegations of 'unfair' and 'unprofessional' riding at Phillip Island, Marc Marquez will start alongside the Italian in the Malaysian MotoGP.
Embroiled in a close title fight with team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, Rossi instead targeted a surprised Marquez on Thursday - accusing the Honda rider of trying to help Lorenzo in last weekend's Australian race.
Rossi's central claim was that Marquez's oscillating lap times were a result of his efforts to hold up the Italian, with the aim of aiding race leader Lorenzo and leaving Rossi under attack from Andrea Iannone.
Marquez maintains he was simply managing his front tyre and that overtaking Lorenzo for victory on the final lap is not the behaviour of someone helping the #99.
But the conspiracy theories were sent into overdrive when Marquez began Saturday's Sepang Qualifying 2 shootout with Lorenzo right behind him, meaning the Yamaha rider would benefit from a slipstream.
Had Marquez decided to blatantly support Lorenzo in response to Rossi's attack?
The answer was far more mundane - Marquez couldn't hang around in the pits for track space as he planned to make three rather than the usual two qualifying runs. And Lorenzo was far from the only rider glued to his rear wheel.
“I never start first in the qualifying practice, but here the plan was to try to use three tyres and we know that to use three tyres the time will be tight,” Marquez explained.
“For that reason we left the pits at the beginning [of Qualifying 2] and then when I go out on track the problem is that it is not only Jorge behind. It was Iannone, Aleix, Crutchlow... I don't remember them all, but many riders.
“I slowed down at Turn 5 and 6, but everybody stayed behind me. Then I say 'OK, I will push the first lap, not 100%, to try to avoid the slipstream and then on the next tyres I will push more'.
“But of course I did not agree to give the slipstream to all these riders, but it was the only way to use three tyres. It was push, or lose one tyre.”
Prior to qualifying, Marquez found himself closely following Rossi in both of Saturday's practice sessions, much to the Italian's annoyance. Had that been deliberate?
“In FP3 I was doing a great lap and FP3 is now very important to go directly to Qualifying 2,” Marquez replied. “I saw Valentino really, really far [ahead] but then in the exit of Turn 9 he stopped. And then I stopped.
“I was waiting [behind him] because I already knew my lap was not so bad to be in Qualifying 2, but of course I want to improve and ride in 1m '59 like I did. And yeah, we were both waiting there.
“Then in FP4 I go out from the box, and when I was exiting the pits he passed and then for some reason in Turn 4 he went a little bit wide and then he stopped. In that moment I continued pushing because it was not my target [to follow anyone].”
Giving his opinion, Rossi avoided pouring fuel on fire: “Sincerely I don't remember very well, but I agree with Marc. Nothing strange. Just in FP3 he slow down because he don't want to go in front, but I think it is normal. Happens every time.”
Although both were beaten to pole by Marquez's Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa, the recent controversy between Marquez and Rossi means all eyes will be on the right-hand side of the starting grid when the green lights go out at 3pm on Sunday.
Lorenzo meanwhile lines up in fourth position, his first flying lap having indeed been his fastest in Q2...