Valentino Rossi moved a step closer to the 2009 MotoGP title with a blistering record lap to take pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The reigning champion dominated the session at a sweltering Sepang, moving further and further ahead during the final quarter of an hour until he beat his own qualifying record – set in the 990cc era – by lapping in 2m00.518s.
Rossi's title rival Jorge Lorenzo eventually managed to take second on the sister Yamaha, 0.569sec down on pole. Lorenzo had been as low as sixth earlier in the session, before a last gasp improvement took him to second. He lost the position to Honda's Dani Pedrosa moments later, but regained it with his final lap.
Pedrosa remained third, meaning that Casey Stoner (Ducati) will start off the front row in fourth.
Loris Capirossi took a superb fifth for the hitherto struggling Suzuki team – his best starting position since Mugello in June.
Toni Elias was the best satellite rider in sixth on his Gresini Honda, ahead of Nicky Hayden's Ducati and Randy de Puniet's LCR Honda.
Andrea Dovizioso was pushed outside the top 10 on the second factory Honda and will start 11th, between Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards and Gresini's Alex de Angelis, while Aleix Espargaro did a fine job on his return to Pramac Ducati to line up right behind his teammate Mika Kallio in 13th.
Pos Driver Bike Time Gap
1. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 2m00.518s
2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 2m01.087s + 0.569s
3. Dani Pedrosa Honda 2m01.254s + 0.736s
4. Casey Stoner Ducati 2m01.455s + 0.937s
5. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 2m01.716s + 1.198s
6. Toni Elias Gresini Honda 2m01.918s + 1.400s
7. Nicky Hayden Ducati 2m01.980s + 1.462s
8. Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 2m02.098s + 1.580s
9. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 2m02.195s + 1.677s
10. Alex de Angelis Gresini Honda 2m02.274s + 1.756s
11. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 2m02.362s + 1.844s
12. Mika Kallio Pramac Ducati 2m02.435s + 1.917s
13. Aleix Espargaro Pramac Ducati 2m02.859s + 2.341s
14. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 2m03.032s + 2.514s
15. Marco Melandri Hayate Kawasaki 2m03.088s + 2.570s
16. James Toseland Tech 3 Yamaha 2m03.528s + 3.100s
17. Gabor Talmacsi Scot Honda 2m03.874s + 3.356s