Jorge Lorenzo came within just 0.069secs of taking the fifth pole position of his rookie MotoGP season, at Phillip Island on Saturday.
The Fiat Yamaha rider, who has won the last two Australian 250cc races, made several pole appearances during the exciting session - but his final flying lap was just a fraction of a second slower than home hero Casey Stoner. Nicky Hayden completes a front row covered by just 0.091secs.
"I've been fairly consistent throughout the sessions here and we made another step this morning which allowed me to be quite fast this afternoon," explained Jorge, who qualified as the top Michelin rider during an impressive session for the French brand. "The weather was more complicated than it looked because the wind was very strong, but anyway my bike worked very well.
"I am disappointed to miss out on the pole position by such a tiny amount but anyway I am happy to be on the front row and also to have such a good race pace," said the Estoril winner. "My rivals are fast too and we know that it is going to be a hard battle, but I am really looking forward to it.
"Yesterday we tried some practice starts, because this has been an issue for me lately, so now I hope I can get a good start tomorrow, stay at the front and try to fight. Thanks to my team and Michelin for getting us onto the front row again; the fourth race in a row!" he concluded.
"It's very good to be starting on the front row here; tomorrow we have a real chance of a good race," added team manager Daniele Romagnoli. "We improved quite a lot in the dry from yesterday, but we still have to improve the rear traction a little more. Our pace today was pretty good and we selected the best tyre, hopefully the conditions will allow us to use this one tomorrow. With the Michelin qualifiers Jorge was very fast and unfortunately we missed [pole] by just 0.069 seconds! We will use tomorrow's warm-up to refine the setting a little bit more but we're in good shape and we're looking forward to an exciting race."
Lorenzo's Bridgestone-shod team-mate Valentino Rossi will start just twelfth after running off track on the approach to turn three and falling awkwardly into the gravel trap.