Hiroshi Aoyama held on to pole position for Sunday's 250cc Malaysian Grand Prix after a slower second qualifying session at Sepang.

Marco Simoncelli was the fastest rider during the Saturday session, pushing the world championship leader - who could well be crowned one round early on Sunday - up one place on the grid to third, at the expense of Aoyama's KTM team-mate Mika Kallio.

Mapfre Aprilia's Alvaro Bautista was second in both qualifying sessions, with Aoyama third on Saturday - the Japanese lapping almost 0.642sec adrift of his Friday pace.

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Aside from Simoncelli, Julian Simon and Yuki Takahashi were the only other riders in the top ten to improve upon their provisional grid position.

Grid line-up - Sepang:

1. Aoyama (KTM) 2min 6.893sec
2. Bautista (Aprilia) +0.180sec
3. Simoncelli (Gilera) +0.216sec
4. Kallio (KTM) +0.225sec
5. Wilairot (Honda) +0.517sec
6. Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.562sec
7. Simon (KTM) +0.775sec
8. Takahashi (Honda) +0.873sec
9. Debon (Aprilia) +1.027sec
10. Faubel (Aprilia) +1.116sec