Cal Crutchlow insists his breakthrough MotoGP pole would have come at Motegi were it not for an unidentified problem on his bike.
The Briton, who has started on the front row for the previous three straight races, shot to the top of the times 12 minutes before the flag fell. His 1m45.275s put him a quarter of a second clear of the field at the time.
As he began his next flyer however he suffered a massive moment at the first corner, which he only prevented from being a heavy crash with a remarkable save.
Rather than being a result of pushing too hard, Crutchlow said the incident - and his subsequent inability to improve his time - was the result of a problem on his Tech 3 satellite Yamaha.
"I should have been on pole, 100 percent," Crutchlow. "It was a good opportunity for pole, but something was broken on the bike it seems, and the part where I nearly crashed I had a massive vibration on the main straight.
"On my last run I didn't push at all, when I should have been able to go quicker."
Despite the setback Crutchlow said he was still satisfied to have sealed third position, particularly given his form over Friday's opening practice sessions.
"We will see how we analyse [the problem] tonight, but overall it was a good job by the team," he reflected. "It was a big improvement over the weekend, from [being] just ahead of the CRTs in first practice to leading [qualifying]. I'm definitely pleased."