Julian Simon put himself in a good position to keep his title hopes alive by claiming his second straight pole position in Moto2 qualifying at Sepang, although points leader Toni Elias was still on the front row in fourth.
Elias (Gresini Moriwaki) leads Simon by 81 points in the championship with four rounds to go, so the reigning 125cc champion needs to out-score former MotoGP man Elias by at least seven points in Malaysia to prolong the title fight.
Simon was the early pacesetter in the session, before Elias had a spell in front. But he was pushed back as first Aspar Suter's Simon returned to pole, then Alex de Angelis, who had been quickest in both practice sessions on his JiR Motobi, improved their times. Elias still looked set for third until Interwetten Moriwaki's Thomas Luthi grabbed the spot in the closing moments.
Roby Rolfo was fifth on the Italtrans STR Suter, ahead of Speed Up rider Andrea Iannone.
Karel Abraham maintained his strong Motegi pace to qualify seventh, whereas eighth was a relatively disappointing result for Scott Redding given his superb recent form.
De Angelis' JiR teammate Simone Corsi failed to set a time at all after crashing on his first lap. Other riders to fall were Alex Debon, who still qualified 10th, Mashel Al Naimi and local wild-card Mohamad Zamri Baba.