Ben Spies is hoping to avoid early race incidents during his third and final Motegi appearance for home manufacturer Yamaha.
The Texan, moving to Pramac Ducati next year, dropped to 15th in 2010 after having to avoid another rider, then dropped to last in 2011 after being hit by a fallen Valentino Rossi (pictured).
Spies rode through the field to eighth and sixth respectively.
After two uneventful fifth places in the preceding rounds of this season, Spies looks to have put his earlier run of misery behind him and is optimistic for the weekend ahead.
“I'm looking forward to the weekend. We had some bad luck last year on the first lap when Valentino crashed but we had really good pace,” said Spies.
“We've had a couple of decent results running up to this weekend so hopefully we can put together a good result for Yamaha here at their home race.”
Spies is tenth in the championship standings, led by team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, with a best race finish of fourth this year.
“We are very excited to be here for Yamaha's home race to put on a good show for our Japanese fans. With four races to go we have Jorge in a very strong position leading the Championship and Ben delivering better results with no issues,” said team director Massimo Meregalli.
“Motegi is a very unique track with a lot of stop-and-go corners. So far we've had a good base set up for most of the tracks of the season so let's see how the 1000cc M1 performs there for the first time on Friday morning.”