Casey Stoner raised his Ducati before securing a late front row start for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi - while the four other Ducati riders were left outside the top ten.

"We started out yesterday with a very similar setting to Aragon, with a similar geometry, but we had to drop the bike quite a lot because we were having a lot of problems under braking and in the exit from the corners the front was coming up," explained Stoner, who took his first victory of the season last time in Spain.

"So we dropped it down to try and get some more stability but then found that we had lost grip. The track was getting better and I was riding harder but we were getting slower!

"We had to lift the bike a little to get more weight over the rear and decided to put up with the wheelies. Immediately we found an improvement and the lap times started to tumble. From there we threw a soft tyre in and we escaped the clutches of the third row so we're happy."

Stoner's late attack saw the Australian finish the session just 0.104sec from pole sitter Andrea Dovizioso (Honda), with Valentino Rossi only 0.05sec ahead of the #27.

By contrast, team-mate Nicky Hayden was 1.181sec from pole in eleventh.

"It hasn't been a good day for us really," admitted the American. "The team has worked really hard but we have been dancing around problems. I'm suffering a lot of pumping on corner exit and the front is quite harsh over the bumps - it's closing a lot.

"Eleventh place on the grid is never good and my race pace isn't too hot either. It's unfortunate and I'm not real happy right now but we'll come back tomorrow and try to make it right."

The three other Ducati riders, Aleix Espargaro, Hector Barbera and Mika Kallio, qualified 13th, 15th and 16th respectively.


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