MotoGP title leader Marc Marquez put together a 'perfect' pole position for the Czech Republic Grand Prix at Brno.
The Spaniard sealed his place at the front of the grid in dramatic fashion as he carved between Valentino Rossi and Pol Espargaro at the final chicane.
While Rossi was focused on a fast exit to pass Espargaro, Marquez - who had benefited from a slipstream behind the Italian - couldn't afford to wait that long and squeezed his Honda between them.
The result was a new circuit record lap of 1m 54.596s and pole position by 0.253s over reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo, who had dominated Saturday's free practice sessions.
"Honestly before qualifying I said that a front row would be a good result, because the lap time that Lorenzo did this morning ['54.791s] was amazing and I was not sure it was possible to match that," Marquez said.
"But I found the perfect lap. Okay there were some overtakes at the last corner and maybe with Pol I lost some time, but I gained time over the lap with the small slipstream from Valentino.
"I didn't expect to be on pole, and didn't expect this lap time, but I did all of my best sectors on that lap. Normally I go alone in qualifying, but this time I found a slipstream and maybe it gave me pole.
"I'm happy for pole, but maybe I'm happier for FP4. Because all weekend I was struggling a lot with the used tyres and in FP4 we changed the setup and I was able to ride in mid-'56s.
"It's a good pace. Similar to Lorenzo. We will see tomorrow but if it is a dry race, now I feel ready to fight minimum for the podium and then we will see if we can fight for the victory."
Marquez thinks it will be much more than a two rider duel for victory, tipping as many as five riders to form Sunday's lead group. Indeed, the Spaniard believes Valentino Rossi (sixth) and Andrea Iannone (third) currently have a slightly better race pace than him.
"The gap [to Iannone and Rossi] is big in qualifying, but on race pace I am actually a little bit slower. One-two tenths. I'm happy because this morning it was five tenths to Jorge.
"I think there will be around four or five riders fighting at the front - the two Yamaha riders, Iannone and we cannot forget Vinales. He is riding well and can be there at the beginning of the race.
"It's important for me to start in the front row because we lose quite a lot in acceleration, so it is difficult to overtake."
Asked how he had closed the gap to Lorenzo, Marquez replied:
"Yesterday we focussed more on the electronic side. We tried some new things but I didn't like it so we come back. Then this morning we saw that in this circuit the wings had some potential, so we keep using for FP4. For this I improve a little bit.
"Then we improved the set-up. One of my problems was when the tyre dropped that was sliding a lot and I wasn't able to find the grip and I was losing even more on acceleration. But we found something there that now I'm able to ride smoother and faster. That is the main target at this circuit.
"Always you try to copy the best rider. Here Lorenzo was the fastest in FP3 so I tried to copy more his style and looks like - okay, my style is completely different - but it's working well."
But such progress will count for little should the forecast rain arrive.
"Look like tomorrow morning will be wet for warm-up, but for the race maybe it's dry," Marquez said. "In dry conditions we know that we are competitive, in wet conditions wewill try to find our best level and it will be important to finish the race. We'll see."
Marquez - who rode to fifth last weekend in Austria, just one day after dislocating his shoulder - starts Sunday's race with a 43-point lead over Lorenzo.
By Peter McLaren