Jorge Lorenzo will start MotoGP's grand finale from pole position, the opposite end of the grid to his title rival and team-mate Valentino Rossi.
As the sun baked down on the Ricardo Tormo circuit, tension mounted in the pit lane while security was on hand in case it carried through into the grandstands.
Championship leader Rossi arrived for season finale with a seven-point advantage in the points but a massive disadvantage on the track.
No matter how he performed on Saturday, the Yamaha rider will start the race from the very back of the grid after clashing with Marc Marquez in Malaysia.
As such it was all on Lorenzo's shoulders to see how much he could make his team-mate pay for his transgressions. And Lorenzo, second in the Championship, made him pay the biggest price possible.
The Spaniard set a new lap record for the Valencia circuit with a 1:30.011 to take pole position while Rossi crashed out of qualifying while down in 12th place.
Marquez, who opted for a two-stop strategy which permitted him three runs on fresh tyres, was unable to get the measure of Lorenzo and finished second fastest, 0.488s down. Dani Pedrosa will join his fellow Spaniards on the front row of the grid.
Aleix Espargaro, who topped Q1 to book his place in the second qualifying session, was fourth quickest ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith.
Nicky Hayden qualified P17 for his final MotoGP race while Broc Parkes, filling in for the injured Alex de Angelis at IodaRacing Team, completed the grid in 26th place.
1 Jorge LORENZO Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1'30.011
2 Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 1'30.499 +0.488
3 Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 1'30.516 0.505
4 Aleix ESPARGARO Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1'30.917 0.906
5 Cal CRUTCHLOW LCR Honda 1'30.948 0.937
6 Bradley SMITH Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'31.012 1.001
7 Andrea IANNONE Ducati Team 1'31.056 1.045
8 Pol ESPARGARO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'31.080 1.069
9 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 1'31.245 1.234
10 Danilo PETRUCCI Octo Pramac Racing 1'31.292 1.281
11 Maverick VIÑALES Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1'31.340 1.329
12 Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1'31.471 1.460
13 Michele PIRRO Ducati Team 1'31.780
14 Stefan BRADL Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1'31.824
15 Hector BARBERA Avintia Racing 1'31.851
16 Loris BAZ Forward Racing 1'31.856
17 Nicky HAYDEN Aspar MotoGP Team 1'32.083
18 Yonny HERNANDEZ Octo Pramac Racing 1'32.142
19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1'32.282
20 Scott REDDING EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1'32.448
21 Jack MILLER LCR Honda 1'32.564
22 Mike DI MEGLIO Avintia Racing 1'32.716
23 Anthony WEST AB Motoracing 1'33.049
24 Eugene LAVERTY Aspar MotoGP Team 1'33.066
25 Toni ELIAS Forward Racing 1'33.092
26 Broc PARKES E-Motion IodaRacing Team 1'33.577