Valentino Rossi is preparing for a long, hard race in the Japanese MotoGP after the Movistar Yamaha rider clinched a front row start as he set the second fastest time in final qualifying.

Rossi, who injured himself at the previous round in a heavy fall at Motorland Aragon, was only 0.055s behind Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati GP14.2 at Motegi, with Dani Pedrosa the top Honda rider as he completed the front row.

The Doctor, who again chose to ride without any pain-killing injections after hurting his finger in the spill at Aragon, set his best lap in 1m 44.557s after leading qualifying early in the session until Dovizioso took over.

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"I'm very satisfied about the qualifying; it's four years since my last pole position, which is a life ago, but the second position on the front row will be very important for the race because there are a lot of riders very close with a great pace," said Rossi.

"We worked hard with the team and we did a very good job. My rhythm was nothing special and it looks like the Ducati, [Dani] Pedrosa and especially Marc [Marquez] and Jorge [Lorenzo] are a little bit faster than me. If we want to fight for the victory tomorrow we have to improve.

"But we improved a lot in the qualifying and I felt strong; I was in the right place at the right time and we did a good strategy.

"I had more pain yesterday but today was better and also with the adrenalin in the qualifying and for the race tomorrow it will help a lot."

Rossi, winner at Misano, starts Sunday's race just three points behind Dani Pedrosa in the fight for second in the world championship. However Rossi is himself starting to come under pressure from Lorenzo, now just twelve points back.