Fabio Quartararo kept his cool to take a stunning pole position in a hectic Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying that saw newly crowned MotoGP champion Marc Marquez crash heavily.
The Petronas Yamaha SRT rider once again showed his class at the Sepang International Circuit to clock a record lap to snatch pole with a 1:58.303s effort.
However, the story of the session involved Quartararo and Marquez with the latter coming unstuck in the final two minutes of the session.
Mind games were on display with Marquez desperate to follow Quartararo as the pair began their final runs.
Drama was to strike the six-time MotoGP champion who suffered a huge high side at Turn 2, which resulted in the Spaniard being thrown from his bike. He initially landed on his feet before face planting on the tarmac.
Luckily Marquez was able to walk away from the incident but will start Sunday’s race from 11th on the grid.
Meanwhile, at the front it was a Yamaha affair as Quartararo headed factory rider Maverick Vinales and the sister Petronas Yamaha SRT machine of Franco Morbidelli.
All three had spells at the top of the timesheets during the session before Quartararo set his personal best to take pole from Vinales by 0.103s.
The Yamaha dominance was split by Jack Miller, who took fourth on the Pramac Ducati, ahead of his former team-mate Cal Crutchlow on the #35 LCR Honda.
Valentino Rossi completed the second row while Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar), Danilo Petrucci (Ducati), Johann Zarco (LCR Honda) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) rounded out the top 10.
Joan Mir was unfortunate to miss out on a spot in Q2 having topped much of the Q1 session before a flurry of times late on.
The Suzuki Ecstar rider was pushed out of the top two spots by a flying Crutchlow, who headed the times in Q1 from Petrucci.
While Crutchlow and Petrucci advanced to Q2, Mir was left to settle for 13th on the grid behind Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) and ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Gresini Aprilia) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory).
Jorge Lorenzo’s struggles continued with the factory Honda rider mired in 18th behind Karel Abraham (Avintia Racing) and Andrea Iannone (Gresini Aprilia).
The grid is completed by Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM Factory) and Malaysia’s Hafizh Syahrin (Red Bull KTM Tech 3).
Sunday’s Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 1800 AEDT.
Results: MotoGP Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix Qualifying
|1||Fabio Quartararo||Petronas Yamaha||1m58.303s||–|
|3||Franco Morbidelli||Petronas Yamaha||1m58.432s||0.129s|
|4||Jack Miller||Pramac Ducati||1m58.725s||0.422s|
|5||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||1m58.951s||0.648s|
|9||Johann Zarco||LCR Honda||1m59.139s||0.836s|
|12||Francesco Bagnaia||Pramac Ducati||1m59.640s||1.337s|
|16||Karel Abraham||Avintia Ducati||2m00.072s||–|
|20||Hafizh Syahrin||Tech3 KTM||2m01.045s||–|