Championship leader Marc Marquez claimed his seventh pole position of the season at the Aragon Grand Prix ahead of title rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa.
The Spaniard, 20, is aiming to become the first rookie to win the title since 1978 and left it late to take pole with a track record lap of 1:47.804.
Lorenzo was one hundredth of a second back, while Pedrosa will start third.
Great Britain's Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith were seventh and eighth.
Marquez leads the overall title standings by 34 points from both his compatriots - Lorenzo and Pedrosa.
With Aragon the first of five remaining races, Marquez is odds on to take Lorenzo's title and become the first rookie to be crowned world champion since American Kenny Roberts 35 years ago.
Ahead of the decisive qualifying session, Lorenzo failed to make use of final practice, with Yamaha team director Maio Meregalli stating the rider's bike was struggling for grip.
However, Lorenzo quickly broke Casey Stoner's 2011 qualifying record at the circuit and then went faster with two more laps before Marquez clocked his own record-breaking time.
"That pole was so close with Dani and Jorge going so fast, but the most important thing is the race and we will have to take care of the tyres," said Marquez.
Lorenzo won at Misano last time out despite Marquez starting from pole, but the concerns surrounding his Yamaha were compounded after the race when the bike seemed to suffer more problems.
Pedrosa held pole for a brief period late on in the 15-minute qualifying session before eventually slipping to third, as did six-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who ended up fourth.
"I expected to improve with my second tyre but couldn't, so third in the end is ok," said Pedrosa, who won last year's race. "I'm hoping for a good start because the first corner is so tight."
Britain's Crutchlow will have work to do if he is to improve his fifth-place championship standing after only securing seventh on the grid, while his compatriot and Monster Yamaha team-mate Bradley Smith was pleased with eighth.
Aragon qualifying times:
1. Marc Marquez (Spa) Repsol Honda Team 1:47.804
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha Factory Racing 1:47.814
3. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Repsol Honda Team 1:47.957
4. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha Factory Racing 1:47.962
5. Stefan Bradl (Ger) LCR Honda MotoGP 1:48.128
6. Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Honda Gresini 1:48.302
7. Cal Crutchlow (GB) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:48.653
8. Bradley Smith (GB) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:48.854
9. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Ducati Team 1:49.219
10. Aleix Espargaro (Spa) Power Electronics Aspar 1:49.348