Marc Marquez will secure a second successive MotoGP title if he wins the Japanese Grand Prix from fourth on Sunday.
The Spaniard qualified fourth for the race at Motegi, with Andrea Dovizioso taking pole.
The Italian - on his Ducati - took first place for the for the maiden time this season and will share the front row with Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa.
Dovizioso's time of one minute 44.502 seconds was a record for the circuit.
Marquez leads the title race by 72 points with Pedrosa his nearest rival.
Even if he does not win the race, a finish ahead of Pedrosa could be enough depending on how other standings end up.
Britain's Cal Crutchlow will start in eighth with compatriot Bradley Smith two places further down.