FRENCHMAN Alain Prost, who has won pole position at every race so far this season, clinched it again yesterday for the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, Italy.
Prost, criticised after his performance in the rain-affected European Grand Prix at Donington, was lagging behind teammate Damon Hill.
But the Williams-Renault driver then answered his critics by recording the fastest time during the final official practice session.
It is the 24th time he has won pole position in his career.
He lived dangerously, though, going off the track on one occasion as he and the other leading drivers tried to make the most of the ideal hot and dry conditions.
He clocked his best time after cutting across the grass at the Acque Minerale corner 10 minutes after rival Ayrton Senna has spun off.
''It was okay for me today. Everything went well and I am on pole,'' said Prost, who will be bidding to extend his record total of 45 Grand Prix victories.
''The car feels very good on full tanks so I am confident about the race.'' Teammate Hill, who was second fastest, was disappointed at narrowly missing out on his first pole position.
''It was a close thing but Alain is on pole and I am a little disappointed,'' he said.
''On the first run I had there was too much traffic and cars going off everywhere with dirt on the track. It was a complete waste of a run.
''I waited a little for my second run but I still had traffic, although not too bad.'' German Michael Schumacher, third fasstest qualifier, said: ''I feel very happy to have retained my position ahead of McLaren.
''The competition between Senna and myself is exactly what the spectators want to see and that is good.'' Senna, who has suggested he is close to a season-long deal with the McLaren team, said: ''I had a shunt by going on to the kerb but other than that the car was fine.'' McLaren managing director Ron Dennis said he was involved in discussions with Ford to get the same engines supplied to Benetton.
He said he was hoping to give Benetton some of McLaren's state-of-the-art computerised suspension technology in exchange for a supply of the superior engines.