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It was supposed to be the qualifying session that saw Honda domination to set up a championship win for Marc Marquez during tomorrow’s Japanese GP, but it wasn’t to be as Andrea Dovizioso stepped up and took pole position.
The pole position lap-time of 1:44.502 was a new lap-record for the Motegi track and is only Dovizioso’s second-ever pole position, with his previous one coming at the same Grand Prix in 2010.
It is also Ducati’s first pole position since Valencia 2010, where former world champion Casey Stoner put the red machine at the front of the grid.
In truth, Honda’s day never really got going. Marc Marquez had to abandon his opening lap when he over-shot a corner before Dani Pedrosa crashed out of the session in the final seconds.
Pedrosa had put in a decent enough time to put himself third on the grid, with champion-elect Marquez just behind him in fourth.
The only rider that came close to beating the time set by Dovizioso was Valentino Rossi, who would have taken first position had he not been held up by slower riders on his final quick lap.
Rossi’s teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, will start from fifth place after he struggled on his second set of tyres. After the first set of lap-times, Lorenzo was in second place so the double world champion will be disappointed with his grid position.
Britain’s Cal Crutchlow will start the race from eighth place, with Bradley Smith starting from 10th on his Tech 3 Yamaha.
Japanese GP Qualifying results