Spain's Dani Pedrosa secured pole position in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi on Saturday.
Pedrosa won this year's German MotoGP
Pedrosa, who signed a new two-year contract with Honda earlier in the day, clocked one minute 45.864 seconds on his penultimate qualifying lap.
Yamaha's Valentino Rossi finished 0.391secs behind him, with reigning world champion Nicky Hayden a further 0.320secs adrift in third.
Championship leader Casey Stoner finished ninth fastest in 1:47.121secs.
Rossi delayed Stoner's march to the MotoGP title with victory in the previous round in Portugal and the Italian must finish ahead of the 21-year-old Australian in Japan to keep his hopes of an eighth world crown alive.
Stoner leads the standings by 76 points with three rounds remaining, while Rossi is chasing his first victory in Motegi since joining Yamaha.
Japanese Grand Prix MotoGP qualification results
1. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda 1:45.864
2. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 1:46.255
3. Nicky Hayden (USA) Honda 1:46.575
4. Randy de Puniet (Fra) Kawasaki 1:46.643
5. Toni Elias (Spa) Honda 1:46.804
6. Anthony West (Aus) Kawasaki 1:46.912
7. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha 1:46.997
8. Loris Capirossi (Ita) Ducati 1:47.047
9. Casey Stoner (Aus) Ducati 1:47.121
10. Marco Melandri (Ita) Honda 1:47.136