Qualifying for round 16 of the MotoGP at Sepang, Malaysia didn't get interesting until the last few minutes of the allocated hour.
First up Casey Stoner went fastest, then Dani Pedrosa, then Andrea Dovizioso with championship leader Jorge Lorenzo back in fourth. Everything changed with minutes to go when Lorenzo pilled an absolute flyer out of the bag to set a new circuit and qualifying record of 2.00.334sec.
As the chequered flag fell to end the session, Pedrosa and Dovizioso joined Lorenzo on the front row with Stoner having to settle for fourth with Cal Crutchlow and Ben Spies also on the second row.
The two Ducatis struggled with setup and speed all day and their dismal season continued with Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi having to settle for ninth and 11th respectively.
Lorenzo has now scorched to three successive poles n a row but despite such consistency has been unable to get a win with Pedrosa pipping him each time.
"I put in a very good lap at the end of the session with the new qualifying tyre, said Lorenzo. "We struggled with chattering in the early part of the session and the rear tyre wasn't working as well as in the morning.
"Our pace has to better for the race and we have some options. Let's see what happens, it's going to be a long race in difficult conditions."
Chattering through Saturday's practice and qualifying was affecting all the riders but some more than others. The two Repsol Honda riders, Pedrosa and Stoner were suffering at the higher end of the scale and the team will have to sort the problem out if either of them are to stand on top of the podium Sunday afternoon.
Pedrosa has won four of the last five races and said he suffered problems all day in various guises depending on what tyres he used.
"The last set of tyres were even chattering on the straight," said Pedrosa. "The tyre didn't feel round and that's not a good feeling and makes it hard to set a fast lap time.
"We still made on the front row so that's good. The bike's hard to ride though, I just hope we don't have this chattering for the race."
Stoner was very disappointed with his performance and not so much with his fitness or bike speed, but with bike setup, chattering and brakes.
"Every time we try and move forward with the bike we seem to go backwards," said Stoner. "It's been a disappointing weekend especially today [qualifying]. We've had pace but there are other problems with the brakes and chattering issues and we go into the race without any real direction."By Eric Thompson at Sepang