Motegi: Jorge Lorenzo captured pole position for Sunday`s Japanese Grand Prix, outgunning rival and championship leader Marc Marquez on the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.
The Yamaha rider Lorenzo, the reigning world champion, clocked a fastest time of one minute 53.471sec to edge out fellow Spaniard Marquez, who was 0.658sec slower, to grab his fourth pole of the season.
Honda`s Marquez can become the youngest ever MotoGP world champion and first rookie title winner for 35 years on Sunday, although Lorenzo can still catch him mathematically.
There is just one race, in Valencia, after Japan. The action at Motegi has been badly disrupted by weather but the rain stopped shortly before the riders hit the track for qualifying, although puddles remained.
"I am very happy to get the second pole position in a row after Phillip Island (Australia)," Lorenzo said, adding he had found the wet surface hard to handle at first.
Lorenzo`s victory at a chaotic Australian MotoGP last weekend, coupled with the disqualification of Marquez for incurring a black flag, kept the championship alive.
Marquez, who will win the world title if he ends Sunday`s race with a points lead of 26 or more, said after qualifying: "We did a very good job because the target was to try to finish second, on the front row, and we did it."
Dense fog and torrential rain forced the cancellation of free practice on Friday and Saturday, and riders went straight into qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
Dry weather is forecast for race day.
"Marc has never ridden here on a dry (track) in MotoGP. Motegi has been a good track for my riding style," said Lorenzo, winner in Japan in 2009 and second last year and in 2011.
Lorenzo, the two-time world champion, knows he needs to win on Sunday and in Valencia if he is to pull off an improbable third world crown.
"(Prospect for) championship is much, much better than before the race in Phillip Island. But it`s still very very difficult because Marc for the moment makes not so many mistakes during the race," Lorenzo added.
Marquez was in modest mood, saying: "True, we prefer a dry race. Anyway, Jorge will push. I will try to manage the situation.
"We will try to do our best and try to be there for fighting with Jorge."
Ducati`s Nicky Hayden was third-fastest in qualifying. Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, winner in Japan last year, was fourth, followed by Yamaha`s Valentino Rossi and Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso.