Marc Marquez dealt his Moto2 title charge a major boost with a commanding display in qualifying at Motegi, as current leader Stefan Bradl could only qualify eighth.
Marquez was on top for almost the entire session, setting an early pace on the Catalunya Suter that left him three tenths clear until times dropped in the final minutes.
His only serious competition came in the form of a late rally from Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Suter), who came within 0.07s of finally displacing Marquez at the top.
Marquez reacted to the charge and both riders were on faster laps as the checkered flag fell. While Luthi hit traffic in the third sector, Marquez was able to further extend his advantage, setting a 1m52.067s to seal his seventh pole in the last nine races.
Luthi finished second, his first front-row start since the fourth round at France, while Andrea Iannone (Speed Master Suter) completed a front-row sweep for Suter as he improved late on to take third.
That left Tech 3's Bradley Smith in fourth, from where he will share the second row with Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Moriwaki) and Simone Corsi (Ioda FTR).
Alex de Angelis (JIR Motobi) was another late improver, demoting Bradl (Kiefer Kalex) to eighth. Bradl's championship lead therefore looks precarious, the gap over Marquez having fallen from 82 points to just six over the past seven races.
Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP Suter) and Mattia Pasini (Ioda FTR) rounded out the top ten in a session which featured several heavy crashes.
Randy Krummenacher on the Kiefer Kalex was the first victim, a huge high-side on the final corner of the first lap bringing his qualifying to a very early close.
Pol Espargaro was then lucky to escape from serious injury as he crashed on the final corner right in front of Kenny Noyes. Noyes had no time to react and squeezed his bike between Espargaro and the stricken Speed Up FTR.
With 10 minutes to go, Max Neukirchner (NZ) and Sergio Gadea, who stepped up to Moto2 on the G22 Moriwaki in the last race at Aragon, both ended in the gravel.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Marc Marquez Catalunya Suter 1m52.067s
2. Thomas Luthi Interwetten Suter 1m52.260s + 0.193s
3. Andrea Iannone Speed Master Suter 1m52.423s + 0.356s
4. Bradley Smith Tech 3 1m52.645s + 0.578s
5. Yuki Takahashi Gresini Moriwaki 1m52.694s + 0.627s
6. Simone Corsi Ioda FTR 1m52.696s + 0.629s
7. Alex de Angelis JIR Motobi 1m52.763s + 0.696s
8. Stefan Bradl Kiefer Kalex 1m52.789s + 0.722s
9. Dominique Aegerter Technomag-CIP Suter 1m52.799s + 0.732s
10. Mattia Pasini Ioda FTR 1m52.853s + 0.786s
11. Jordi Torres Aspar Suter 1m52.949s + 0.882s
12. Mika Kallio Marc VDS Suter 1m53.082s + 1.015s
13. Aleix Espargaro Pons Kalex 1m53.135s + 1.068s
14. Michele Pirro Gresini Moriwaki 1m53.172s + 1.105s
15. Scott Redding Marc VDS Suter 1m53.201s + 1.134s
16. Xavier Simeon Tech 3 1m53.210s + 1.143s
17. Esteve Rabat Blusens FTR 1m53.274s + 1.207s
18. Takaaki Nakagami Italtrans Suter 1m53.291s + 1.224s
19. Kenan Sofuoglu Technomag-CIP Suter 1m53.376s + 1.309s
20. Raffaele de Rosa Forward Suter 1m53.430s + 1.363s
21. Pol Espargaro Speed Up FTR 1m53.532s + 1.465s
22. Ricard Cardus QMMF Moriwaki 1m53.638s + 1.571s
23. Anthony West MZ 1m53.715s + 1.648s
24. Axel Pons Pons Kalex 1m53.755s + 1.688s
25. Mike di Meglio Tech 3 1m53.779s + 1.712s
26. Ratthapark Wilairot SAG FTR 1m53.818s + 1.751s
27. Jules Cluzel Forward Suter 1m53.820s + 1.753s
28. Santiago Hernandez SAG FTR 1m53.966s + 1.899s
29. Max Neukirchner MZ 1m53.969s + 1.902s
30. Kenny Noyes Avintia FTR 1m54.161s + 2.094s
31. Valentin Debise Speed Up FTR 1m54.341s + 2.274s
32. Yonny Hernandez Blusens FTR 1m54.375s + 2.308s
33. Tomoyoshi Koyama Technomag-CIP Suter 1m54.441s + 2.374s
34. Joan Olive Castello FTR 1m54.740s + 2.673s
35. Mashel Al Naimi QMMF Moriwaki 1m54.744s + 2.677s
36. Robertino Pietri Italtrans Suter 1m54.911s + 2.844s
37. Sergio Gadea G22 Moriwaki 1m54.911s + 3.491s
38. Randy Krummenacher Kiefer Kalex NC