Jorge Lorenzo has taken his fourth pole position of the year at a weather struck Motegi, as rain saw the normal qualifying structure abandoned in place of a 75 minute session as the fog finally lifted enough to get track action underway for the first time this weekend.
Lorenzo led for most of the session, and a lap in the last quarter secured his pole position. Marc Marquez was second, and a flyer towards the end of the session looked like potentially challenging for the elad before he ran wide and then ran out of time.
The wet weather produced the usual surprises, and Motegi was no different, as Nicky Hayden managed to demote Dani Pedrosa back to the second row, scoring Ducati's first front row of the year since Mugello.
Valentino Rossi was fifth, ahead of the second Ducati of Dovizioso then the Hondas of Bautista, despite a crash, and Stefan Bradl, recovering from a broken then pinned ankle only two weeks ago.
Aleix Espargaro was ninth, making the most of his Aspar Aprilia in the wet, while Yonny Hernandez was a surprise 10th, ahead of Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha factory wildcard Kats Nakasuga, and Bradley Smith.
Michael Laverty was 19th on his wet weather debut on the PBM Aprilia, while his teammate Damien Cudlin was 23rd.
However, qualifying times are likely to count for little, with dry tracks predicted for tomorrow's racing. THere will be a 50 minute warmup session before then to give time for a race set up, with the race scheduled to kick off at 0500 UK time.
Lorenzo said afterwards: "I'm very happy to get my second pole position in a row after Philip Island. It took me a long time to get my confidence back, as the last time I rode in the wet was at Assen [where he broke his collarbone]. I'm glad we had so much time so I could get comfortable on the bike again."