JACK Miller will start from the front row of the Japanese Grand Prix despite a fall at the end of qualifying.
Andrea Dovizioso clinched pole position in a race that is crucial to his lean 2018 title hopes, but it was Miller who almost caused the biggest shock.
The Australian held pole position with 30 seconds to go and was on an even faster lap when he crashed.
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Dovizioso and Johann Zarco both passed him when the checkered flag waved.
A setup change just before qualifying made Miller more comfortable with his Ducati and looked like a real contender for pole until he crashed into Turn 5 on the second lap of his final run.
“The second tire went in and I gave it my all,” said Miller. “Not particularly happy because I know I could have gone faster!
“In the first sector (the first lap) the tire wasn’t open and on the second lap I was two tenths faster – but then I got carried away a little and braked a little too late at Turn 5.
“There is no way I could do it, but I tried anyway!”
The difference between Miller and Pole? 0.137s or less than two tenths.
Marc Marquez was only able to get sixth on the grid to take his seventh world title on a weekend when he just had to make sure that his lead of 77 points does not fall below 75.
The Honda rider crashed during the previous Practice 4, which may encourage him not to overdo it and make his race day job too difficult.
He is joined in the second row by Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Iannone, the latter on his way to push Miller into the front row until he loses time in the last sector, where the Ducati is strongest.
The results meant that no factory Hondas would start in the front row on Honda’s own track, while none of the factory Yamaha did better than the third row in their home Grand Prix.
Maverick Vinales was the best of the blue bikes in seventh ahead of Alex Rins’ Suzuki, while Valentino Rossi will start Sunday’s race from ninth place.
Alvaro Bautista and Dani Pedrosa were next, with Takaaki Nakagami making the cut for Q2 for his first Japanese premier class GP.
Bautista and Taka Naka were the two drivers who progressed through Q1. Franco Morbidelli seemed to get one of the transfer points at one point, until he crashed on the penultimate corner.