Jorge Lorenzo claimed pole position for the Czech Grand Prix with a sensational qualifying performance.
Title rival Dani Pedrosa's momentum meanwhile was disrupted by a fall, leaving him third.
Lorenzo had been edged out by Pedrosa in all three practice sessions, but five minutes into qualifying he had already posted a weekend best of 1m56.5s.
That was only the start of his run however. His next four laps were all under the 1m57s bracket, the Spaniard dropping down to a new outright track record of 1m56.144s.
For a while that signalled the end of any significant action, particularly as Pedrosa lost the front of his Honda coming out of Turn 9, and then struggled on his second frame.
In the final minutes however Lorenzo's control became dominance, as he smashed his previous best with a 1m55.799s.
That initially put him six tenths clear of the field, and with Pedrosa struggling for rhythm it appeared Yamaha could claim a front-row lockout.
That appeared even more likely when, with two minutes to run, Cal Crutchlow (Tech 3) matched Lorenzo in the first three sectors before eventually finishing 0.196s down. Crutchlow had earlier fallen at the session's halfway point.
Ben Spies followed him home in third, but as the flag flew Pedrosa sneaked ahead to secure the outside slot of the front row.