Andrea Dovizioso putting his Ducati on pole position for this year's Japanese MotoGP was not much of a surprise.

But having satellite stars Johann Zarco, Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow as his nearest rivals hadn't been part of the script.

The Frenchman rode his Monster Yamaha Tech3 machine to a time just 0.068s from Dovizioso, feeling his shot at back-to-back Motegi poles (after last year's wet success) slipped away during a downshift at the last chicane.

But it was Miller who had been on top with one-minute to go, before Dovizioso hit the front. The Australian was then on an even better last lap… until he fell from his Pramac Ducati at Turn 5.

Nonetheless, both Zarco and Miller were delighted to start on the front row, while Dovizioso celebrated only the seventh pole of his MotoGP career.

Winner at Motegi last year, Dovizioso can delay Marc Marquez's title celebrations by beating the Honda rider on Sunday.

Marquez will start sixth on the grid (+0.299s), having lost his number one bike during a fast lowside at the end of final practice, which he had led.

Few would be surprised if Sunday's race again becomes a Dovizioso vs Marquez battle, but with the likes of Zarco, Miller and fourth on the grid Crutchlow (LCR Honda) poised to cause an upset.

Starting between the Hondas of Crutchlow and Marquez on the grid will be Suzuki's Andrea Iannone, with Maverick Vinales the lead factory Yamaha in seventh (+0.550s).

It was a disappointing session for Vinales, after the highs of Thailand and an encouraging opening day in Japan. Team-mate Valentino Rossi was also left shrugging his shoulders after being left in ninth place (+0.675s), the Suzuki of Alex Rins separating the M1 pair.

Alvaro Bautista (Aspar Ducati), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and home star Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) completed the Qualifying 2 classification.

Bradley Smith edged out KTM team-mate Pol Espargaro to narrowly miss out on reaching the Q2 shootout. 17th following a set-up gamble on Friday, Pramac's Danilo Petrucci's fell in FP3, sending him to Qualifying 1, where he could only manage 15th.

Click Here for the full Qualifying Results…

Dovizioso - 1st: "Our bike works very well at this track and it's a good track for my riding style. We knew that before we came here and did what we expected. We improved our pace this afternoon and then did a good lap in qualifying. So happy in the way we've worked, but Marc has good pace for the race so I think it will be a hard battle - also because other riders have good pace."

Zarco - 2nd: "A great lap for sure! I think I missed pole at the last chicane when I had a problem shifting down the gears. But second place is so good and I'm so happy. I've been fast since FP1 here and I can push. Tomorrow, if it's dry, I need to try and lead the race..."

Miller- 3rd: "We changed somethings on the bike this weekend. A lot of it has been good, but we went back to the old-style shock right before qualifying. The second tyre went in and I went all-out! I could have gone faster on the second lap, but braked too late into turn 5 - there was no way I was going to make it, but I gave it a try anyway!"