Jorge Lorenzo, now almost guaranteed the MotoGP crown after Dani Pedrosa's Friday injury, got the chance to ride with the latest Yamaha engine in qualifying at Motegi – but still saw his perfect run of 2010 front row starts come to an end.
The Spaniard, who finally signed a new two-year Yamaha contract this morning, was pushed down to fourth at the end of the one hour session, which saw Andrea Dovizioso take his first ever pole and Lorenzo's team-mate Valentino Rossi second.
Lorenzo was only 0.205sec behind Dovizioso, but visibly unhappy after the session.
"I am a little disappointed because this wasn't the result we were expecting," he confessed. "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.
"The forecast for tomorrow isn't the best so we have to be prepared for rain...let's hope not though!"
Team manager Wilco Zeelenberg said a second row start was no big deal.
"Despite missing out on the front row for the first time this was a good session for us," said the Dutchman.
"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.
"He used the new engine for the first time and it's feeling good for him, he had to make a few small adjustments but it's definitely an improvement."