Undaunted after receiving another point penalty this week, runaway MotoGP leader Marc Marquez put himself in a good position to win yet another race when he sped to pole position in Malaysia.
A wet track didn't hinder the Spanish rookie, who eclipsed Casey Stoner's lap record of six years ago by clocking two minutes, 011 seconds at Sepang on Saturday.
He overcame a mistake on his second-last qualifying lap to end an exciting session that saw Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa all hold the lead at one stage.
The dominant Marquez recorded his eighth pole of the campaign and fourth in succession.
"I'm really happy with this pole position, particularly as earning it was a little different to my previous poles," Marquez was quoted as saying by MotoGP's official website. "At the start of qualifying there were two completely wet corners, which made it hard to put in a hot lap as we had to calculate the amount of risk while still maintaining our speed.
"I knew that the final lap of the session would be definitive because the surface was drying out and conditions were getting better by the minute."
Marquez was docked a third point this season for colliding with Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa at the Aragon Grand Prix last month and if he is deducted a fourth point, he'll have to start a race at the back of the grid.
While Pedrosa wasn't pleased with Marquez's antics, Yamaha's Lorenzo -- the reigning world champion and second to Marquez in the standings -- came to the 20-year-old's defense.
Nine-time world champion Rossi placed second Saturday, his best qualifying result in three years.
"I'm very happy about today," Rossi, 0.325 seconds adrift of Marquez, was quoted as saying by MotoGP's official website. "We worked hard with the team this weekend and I like the set up a lot.
"I can really push and have good pace."
Cal Crutchlow starts third on the grid, ahead of Lorenzo and Pedrosa.
Pedrosa, nursing a hip injury sustained when he crashed after tangling with Marquez, was fastest in three practice sessions in Sepang before slipping to fifth in qualifying.
"A couple of corners were wet and so it wasn't easy for qualifying," Pedrosa was quoted as saying by MotoGP's official website.
He won last year's race and likely needs to finish in the points Sunday to keep his miniscule chances of earning a maiden title alive.
With four races remaining, Marquez owns a 39-point lead over Lorenzo and is 59 points better than Pedrosa.
German Stefan Bradl, sixth in the standings, will miss the race after fracturing his right ankle in the final practice session.