Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi will start Sunday’s Japanese MotoGP from pole position after clocking the fastest lap in qualifying.
It is the Italian’s 64th career pole and it equals the record number of pole positions held by both Marc Marquez and Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
The Yamaha rider is hunting a fifth victory at the Motegi circuit and first since 2008.
Championship leader Marquez was the early pace setter in qualifying and also went fastest in the third and fourth practice session, but the Honda rider eventually had to settle for second on the grid..
Reigning world champion Lorenzo suffered a scare in the third practice session when he highsided in spectacular fashion.
The battered and bruised Spaniard gritted his teeth and bounced back in qualifying to round out the front row of the grid in third.
Italian Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso was fourth quickest while Honda’s Cal Crutchlow of Great Britain and Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro of Spain complete the second row.