Casey Stoner hailed his "fantastic" start to the Motegi grand prix after a commanding performance in qualifying handed him his fourth straight pole position.
The Australian, who currently leads the 2011 championship by 44 points from Jorge Lorenzo, has also finished inside the top two in every session so far on the Japanese circuit – ominous form heading into the final four races of the year.
Stoner's position at the top of the times looked under threat at one point as Lorenzo produced a stunning lap, but he was able to respond despite setup changes not delivering the expected improvements.
"Everything has gone very well so far this weekend," he explained. "We've been fastest in all but one session so it's been fantastic.
"We tried a few different settings this afternoon and didn't really improve so we'll probably go back to this morning's setting for tomorrow. We'll have to watch the weather as this will affect the set up, there's also a chance of rain so it could get complicated.
"Jorge has been riding fantastic, as have Dovi and Dani, but there is no doubt that the Honda suits this track. I've been looking forward to riding it here for a while now and I'm not disappointed."
Last year's polesitter Andrea Dovizioso again ran well, moving up into third at the expense of teammate Dani Pedrosa in the closing stages of qualifying. He said confidence was high as he targeted a podium finish in the Japanese Grand Prix.
"I'm very happy to be on the front row here in Motegi. This afternoon we improved again from this morning and I feel very confident, especially under braking. We still haven't decided on the tire for tomorrow as we are good on both compounds but I feel positive for the race and for the fight for the podium tomorrow."
Pedrosa meanwhile was initially involved in a three-way fight for pole, but faded to fourth as those around him found chunks of time once they had switched to soft Bridgestone rubber.
"The qualifying practice started quite well for us," he explained. "We were doing lap times with a consistent pace preparing for the race and everything seemed to be going well. But at the end, when I switched to soft tires, I couldn't get them working, I had much less grip. I thought it could be a problem with the first tire and so I came back to the garage to change it but again I had the same issue.
"I am disappointed not to be on the front row, but the good feeling with the race tires is good news."