Casey Stoner stormed to his 11th pole position of the year by obliterating his rivals in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
The championship leader did not show his hand during the first half of the session, and, after running on at the Honda corner, looked as though he may have to settle for fourth spot when Marco Simoncelli knocked him off the front row with 17 minutes to go.
But that was merely the home hero's cue to unleash his raw pace; the Honda rider doing so by going fastest in 1m30.042s and then improving twice more to finish the session with a pole time of 1m29.975.
Jorge Lorenzo, the only man who can deny Stoner this year's championship, will start alongside him. The Yamaha rider led the field at the halfway point of the session, but had to dig deep to hang on to second - 0.473s slower than Stoner.
Alvaro Bautista delivered a stunning lap to go third with just four minutes left, and although he lost the position to Simoncelli's Gresini Honda, the Suzuki rider still managed a career-best fourth spot on the grid.
Honda's Andrea Dovizioso (Honda), who gave Bautista a helpful two on the Spaniard's hot lap, Ducati's Nicky Hayden and Yamaha's Ben Spies were next up; the latter American crashing heavily at Turn 3 early on, but rejoining later on his spare bike.
Dani Pedrosa (Honda), Colin Edwards (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Loris Capirossi (Pramac Ducati) completed the top 10 while Valentino Rossi was a dismal 13th on his works Ducati.
Karel Abraham crashed his Cardion AB Ducati in the final minute while Damian Cudlin completed just one slow lap on his Aspar Ducati, following his heavy practice crash, and is uncertain to start Sunday's race.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap 1. Casey Stoner Honda 1m29.975s 2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m30.448s + 0.473s 3. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m30.599s + 0.624s 4. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m30.714s + 0.739s 5. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m30.780s + 0.805s 6. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m30.792s + 0.817s 7. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m30.835s + 0.860s 8. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m30.871s + 0.896s 9. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m31.237s + 1.262s 10. Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 1m31.583s + 1.608s 11. Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 1m31.635s + 1.660s 12. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda 1m31.889s + 1.914s 13. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m31.980s + 2.005s 14. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m32.023s + 2.048s 15. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m32.054s + 2.079s 16. Toni Elias LCR Honda 1m32.503s + 2.528s 17. Damian Cudlin Aspar Ducati 1m36.666s + 6.691s