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 team-mate 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 wildcard Mohamad Zamri Baba.
Pos Rider Bike Time Gap 1. Julian Simon Suter 2m08.562s 2. Alex de Angelis Motobi 2m08.754s + 0.192s 3. Thomas Luthi Moriwaki 2m08.860s + 0.298s 4. Toni Elias Moriwaki 2m08.863s + 0.301s 5. Roberto Rolfo Suter 2m08.920s + 0.358s 6. Andrea Iannone Speed Up 2m09.004s + 0.442s 7. Karel Abraham FTR 2m09.187s + 0.625s 8. Scott Redding Suter 2m09.335s + 0.773s 9. Michael Ranseder Suter 2m09.409s + 0.847s 10. Alex Debon FTR 2m09.429s + 0.867s 11. Dominique Aegerter Suter 2m09.430s + 0.868s 12. Claudio Corti Suter 2m09.489s + 0.927s 13. Jules Cluzel Suter 2m09.563s + 1.001s 14. Alex Baldolini ICP 2m09.587s + 1.025s 15. Gabor Talmacsi Speed Up 2m09.714s + 1.152s 16. Fonsi Nieto Moriwaki 2m09.746s + 1.184s 17. Hector Faubel Suter 2m09.794s + 1.232s 18. Yuki Takahashi Tech 3 2m09.852s + 1.290s 19. Mike di Meglio Suter 2m09.879s + 1.317s 20. Raffaele De Rosa Tech 3 2m09.900s + 1.338s 21. Sergio Gadea Pons Kalex 2m09.959s + 1.397s 22. Stefan Bradl Suter 2m09.988s + 1.426s 23. Ratthapark Wilairot Bimota 2m10.059s + 1.497s 24. Axel Pons Pons Kalex 2m10.129s + 1.567s 25. Kenny Noyes Promoharris 2m10.194s + 1.632s 26. Anthony West MZ 2m10.444s + 1.882s 27. Yonny Hernandez BQR 2m10.566s + 2.004s 28. Joan Olive Promoharris 2m10.885s + 2.323s 29. Valentin Debise Adv 2m10.971s + 2.409s 30. Javier Fores Bimota 2m11.069s + 2.507s 31. Mohamad Zamri Baba Moriwaki 2m11.289s + 2.727s 32. Kazuki Watanabe Suter 2m11.351s + 2.789s 33. Vladimir Ivanov Moriwaki 2m11.496s + 2.934s 34. Robertino Pietri Suter 2m11.972s + 3.410s 35. Yannick Guerra Moriwaki 2m12.253s + 3.691s 36. Ferruccio Lamborghini Moriwaki 2m12.645s + 4.083s 37. Mashel Al Naimi BQR 2m12.952s + 4.390s 38. Hiromichi Kunikawa Bimota 2m13.458s + 4.896s 39. Simone Corsi Motobi 3m20.426s + 1m11.864s