Had Saturday's wet qualifying session at Motegi been able to go ahead, Colin Edwards would almost certainly been a pole contender - having set the fastest time on his first proper experience of Bridgestone's wet weather tyres in morning practice.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider finished the 45-minute session 0.052sec in front of Valentino Rossi, but with third placed Casey Stoner over half a second further behind.
However, with surface water forcing qualifying to be cancelled, Edwards will instead start fifth on the grid, courtesy of his dry Friday practice time.
“It was impossible to ride out there. There was a lot of standing water and it wasn't even worth going out and trying,” Edwards said of the afternoon conditions.
“This morning was really good in the rain, though I have to say thanks to Valentino and his crew because they got a pretty good rain setting from last year,” he revealed. “But this is the first day I've been on the Bridgestone rain tyre. I ran it in Jerez in testing but it was just damp and nowhere near full wet.
“The rain tyres are really impressive. You can actually push them and get load and that to me is a new thing. Before I've just had to roll around in the rain and not really have the feel to push too hard. The Bridgestone front rain tyre is like their slick, it's just magic. I'm a front-end guy and the confidence it gives is amazing.
“It is a bit annoying that I couldn't go out this afternoon and try for the front row but I'm happy with fifth. It's a shame I didn't go out on the soft tyre yesterday but I got a full 19 laps experience on the hard tyre, and that will be the race tyre. If the temperature comes up a bit too I should be in even better shape. So rain or shine I feel ready for a good race,” Colin concluded.
Team-mate James Toseland had a torrid time in Saturday practice, when he was hindered by a front fork issue and left 18th and last, but is much more confident in the dry. Fortunately for the Briton, forecasts predict that the weather will improve for Sunday.
“If it is dry tomorrow I mostly ran the hard tyre yesterday, so hopefully I'll be sat on the grid in a little bit better position than some of the others,” said Toseland, who will start tenth on the grid.
“I'm a bit annoyed because until the end of yesterday's session I was in sixth or seventh, and if I'd put another tyre in I could have been on the second row maybe, which would have been great.
“I feel with the set-up we have and the distance I've done on the hard tyres puts me in good shape for the race,” he declared.