Jorge Lorenzo admitted that his failure to qualify on the front row at Motegi came as a surprise, but the championship leader is confident that he will be able to fight for victory in the race.
Today's fourth place marked the first time all year that Lorenzo, who completed a new two-year deal with Yamaha this weekend, has missed out on a front row grid position.
"I am a little disappointed because this wasn't the result we were expecting," he said. "I would have really liked to be on the front row here in Japan, Yamaha's home, after signing with them for two more years this morning.
"However it's only qualifying and the most important thing is that we're ready for the race, we have a good pace and we only have one or two more small things still to work on. This afternoon I tried the new engine for the first time and it felt good in the high gears.
"This is the first time for me this season on the second row, but I am still close to the front and I will try to make the best start I can."
Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg does not think there was anything wrong with his rider's pace in qualifying, and that he just did not manage to put an ideal lap together. The difference between pole and fourth was just 0.205 second.
"Despite missing out on the front row for the first time this was a good session for us," said Zeelenberg. "Jorge's race pace is very strong, we just weren't able to put everything together to make one perfect lap. However we are only in fourth and his rhythm is very consistent and fast so it's not a drama for us."