Monterey MotoGP polesitter Jorge Lorenzo said he had to produce an "almost perfect" lap to beat the Hondas to first place on the United States Grand Prix grid.
Yamaha rider Lorenzo ultimately denied Casey Stoner the top spot by 0.074 second on his final lap, despite having been two tenths down on the Australian at the first split. Both men lapped under the circuit's motorcycle record as they fought for pole.
"I did an almost perfect lap to get the pole position," said Lorenzo. "I knew Casey and Dani [Pedrosa] wanted to get it. We have the pole position, and I think we have good pace for tomorrow."
He added: "I pushed to the limit, especially in the last corner, I was at full lean and opened the throttle really soon.
"In my first two tries for a perfect lap there was a lot of traffic so I had to wait for the right moment. The important thing is tomorrow, pole position is nice but anyway the race is what counts."
Lorenzo said he was still debating his tyre choice for Sunday's race, as the variable climate at the California track this weekend had not only cost him practice mileage, but also made it hard to judge options for the grand prix.
"This morning we had some things to try, but we couldn't because we could only do 10 minutes because the weather was foggy," he said "This afternoon the qualifying was completely good weather and we could try the soft tire on the rear. It's very difficult to choose the tire for tomorrow."