MOTEGI (AFP) - Italy's Andrea Dovizioso grabbed his first pole of the season on Saturday ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, while championship leader Marc Marquez will start from the second row as he struggles with mechanical problems.
The Ducati man secured his second career pole in dry, sunny conditions, and will share the front row in Sunday's race with Valentino Rossi on Yamaha and Honda rider Dani Pedrosa.
Dovizioso clocked 1min 44.502sec, a new pole record of the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, and gave Ducati Team their first pole position since 2010.
Defending champion Marquez came 0.273sec after the Italian as his team scrambled to sort out apparent mechanical issues since the first practice on Friday.
If he wins Sunday's race, Marquez would secure the season's title by denying possibility for his rivals to fill the huge point gap he has built.
Even if Marquez fails to win here, he could still seal the title as long as he finishes ahead of Pedrosa and depending on the placement of his key rivals.