Jorge Lorenzo and his Fiat Yamaha crew got their strategy right to secure the MotoGP rookie's eighth front row start of the season and fifth in a row at Sepang on Saturday.
An hour of heavy rain left the Malaysian track soaking for the start of the MotoGP practice, but once the sun came out the track began to dry rapidly - changing conditions by the minute.
The Spaniard and his crew did a good job of choosing the right Michelin tyre for the right moment and he was competitive throughout.
A fast final lap left him in second behind Bridgestone-shod team-mate Valentino Rossi, but Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa had the edge and pushed the pair down to second and third, nonetheless leaving Lorenzo in a good position to launch his podium challenge in tomorrow's 21-lap race.
"It was a strange session today but as the track began to get more and more dry I thought that it would be possible to try for the pole position," said Lorenzo, who can secure the 2008 rookie of the year title on Sunday. "I made some good laps but I think in the end, and after so many laps in the wet, I wasn't quite at the maximum in the dry and I didn't do the fastest possible lap I could have.
"Anyway this front row is very important because I am determined to be back on the podium tomorrow and now we are in good shape to fight for that. I hope that the weather is better tomorrow and that we can have a dry race, our bike is working so well here and I am looking forward to the battle," he warned.
"This was a very different kind of qualifying session because the track changed so much, but it was great fun and very exciting!" added team manager Daniele Romagnoli. "The team worked very well and we chose the best tyre for the right conditions each time, so this helped us to be competitive throughout. This morning's session was also very encouraging because we improved a lot from yesterday and our race pace is now very good. We're starting from the front row and we're in good shape so we are expecting an exciting race tomorrow."