Jorge Lorenzo seized the moment with an incredible record lap to secure his first ever pole start at Valencia for Sunday's MotoGP World Championship finale in Spain.
The Majorcan's elation after a sizzling performance on the Movistar Yamaha was in stark contrast to team-mate and title leader Valentino Rossi's fortunes, with the Italian ending final qualifying in the gravel after losing the front end of his M1 at turn eight.
Rossi came off in the final minute but walked away unscathed and is left to contemplate the monster challenge he faces to defend his seven-point lead in the championship as he prepares to start the final race of 2015 from last place on the grid.
The 36-year-old's fastest time prior to his crash was 1.4 seconds slower than pole man Lorenzo, who lapped in 1m 30.011s to establish new record as he nailed down the prime position on the front row by a huge 0.488s from Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez.
Rossi, who was on a personal best lap until he lost the front, finished Q2 in 12th place but the result is irrelevant for Sunday's race, when the Doctor will attempt to win his tenth world crown from the back of the grid.
Outgoing world champion Marquez had led the way for much of the session before Lorenzo produced a scorching lap to shatter the Honda rider's 2013 pole record by 0.2 seconds.
Dani Pedrosa will also start from the front row alongside team-mate Marquez after qualifying third on the factory RCV with a lap in 1m 30.516. The 30-year-old is bidding to end the season on a high with a third victory of the campaign following wins at Motegi and Sepang in October.
Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro – who progressed from Q1 along with team-mate Maverick Vinales – heads up the second row on the GSX-RR after an impressive lap and is joined by British pair Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Bradley Smith on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3, with Crutchlow clocking a time of 1m 30.948s on his final run after chasing after Marquez when the pair exited pit lane together.
Smith continued his improvement from Friday to claim sixth as the 24-year-old qualified ahead of team-mate Pol Espargaro, who will start from eighth place on the second of the satellite M1s behind Ducati's Andrea Iannone in seventh - over one second off Lorenzo's electric pace.
The third row is completed by Andrea Dovizioso on the second of the factory Ducati GP15s.
Pramac Racing's Danilo Petrucci was tenth fastest head of Vinales – who bounced back after a big high-side in Q1 – and Rossi.
Ducati Test Team rider Michele Pirro was 13th ahead of Stefan Bradl on the Aprilia, while Hector Barbera was the top Open rider on the Avintia Ducati in 15th.
Loris Baz (Forward Yamaha), Nicky Hayden on the Aspar Honda and Pramac Racing's Yonny Hernandez form row six, while Scott Redding qualified down in 20th on the EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda behind Aprilia's Alvaro Bautista.
Eugene Laverty, who came off his Aspar Honda at turn four in Q1, will start the final race of his rookie season in the premier class from 24th place.
1 Jorge Lorenzo
2 Marc Marquez
3 Dani Pedrosa
4 Aleix Espargaro
5 Cal Crutchlow
6 Bradley Smith
7 Andrea Iannone
8 Pol Espargaro
9 Andrea Dovizioso
10 Danilo Petrucci
11 Maverick Viñales
12 Valentino Rossi