Andrea Dovizioso believes his underlying race pace provides even more cause for optimism that the front-row grid slot he secured in MotoGP qualifying at Sepang.
The Tech 3 man had challenged for pole, and while title rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa improved late on, Dovizioso was able to finish within a quarter of a second of the ultimate pace, earning third in the process.
While 'very happy' with that performance, the Italian rider - chasing a seventh podium with the satellite Yamaha squad - said his race pace was even more competitive.
"It is always good to be on the front row but the pleasing aspect is my race pace," he explained.
"I am very close to Lorenzo and Dani and my goal will be to stay with them for as long as possible tomorrow. I hope to have a nice fight."
Dovizioso paid tribute to his team's weekend work, explaining that Tech 3 has been able to improve the bike throughout.
"I am very happy with today's front row because it is confirmation of how strong we have been all weekend," he said.
"I have to say a big thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew because in every session we have made progress with the set-up of the bike and for qualifying we made another big improvement.
"With more rain earlier it meant the track was quite slippery, but normally when that is the case I am very fast and again today I have proved that."