Marc Marquez made history in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix and now he has another milestone in his sights on race day.
The world champion, who sealed his sixth premier class title with a win in Thailand last time out, claimed his first Motegi pole to ensure he has now started at the front of the grid at every circuit on the MotoGP calendar.
If Marquez can follow that up with a 10th victory of 2019 on Sunday, it would see him move level with Mick Doohan on 54 total MotoGP wins in third on the all-time list.
He is also eyeing a fourth consecutive race triumph for the first time since 2014 and, if he makes a 13th straight podium, it will mark his best-ever run.
"To get a first pole position on the MotoGP bike in Motegi is great," said Marquez, who has won this race in two of the past three years.
"I didn't know it was the last one I needed! It's a circuit where I usually struggle at a bit but the set-up was working very well in qualifying and I was able to ride in a different way. It's important to start on pole at the home of Honda.
"On Sunday we will have a lot of pressure from Yamaha and Andrea Dovizioso, I think, so we still need to work a bit in warm up. The target is to fight for the victory, let's see what the conditions are."
Marquez's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, meanwhile, will start his 200th MotoGP race down in 19th position.
YAMAHAS POSE FAMILIAR THREAT
Franco Morbidelli out-qualified Fabio Quartararo as the two Petronas Yamaha bikes joined Marquez on the front row.
Morbidelli equalled his best qualifying performance from Jerez this year and will be hoping to improve on his eventual seventh place finish there as he continues to show good speed towards the end of 2019.
His team-mate Quartararo has only missed the front row at three races this year and was cruelly denied a maiden win by Marquez in Thailand, instead having to settle for a fifth podium of an excellent rookie campaign.
Maverick Vinales heads the second row to ensure there are three Yamahas in the top four for fourth time this year, with the manufacturer looking well placed to seal a first Japan podium since 2015, despite Valentino Rossi coming 10th.
"I wasn't expecting to be that fast," conceded Morbidelli, who was just 0.132secs behind Marquez.
"We definitely did a great job on Friday in dry conditions and again here with half and half [conditions] we were fast. We will have to see how competitive we will be in completely dry conditions."
Frenchman Quartararo does not want his quest for a maiden win to become a distraction.
"I'm not really focused on it," he said. "I just focus on making a good race and fighting for the victory. I don't want to only focus on the victory.
"We need to make a good start, that's the most important, and then let's see what we can do in the race. Honestly I feel good."
CRUTCHLOW PIPS THE DUCATIS
Cal Crutchlow came through Q1 and then claimed fifth, as he looks to follow up on last season's Motegi podium.
The Briton, who has endured a mixed season, said: "That's always the aim, but I don't know whether I'm going to be on the podium or 15th, I have no idea at the minute."
Jack Miller has not scored a point in his previous two races in Japan, but is the top Ducati ahead of factory duo Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci.
Dovizioso, who starts seventh, won the race in 2017 from even further back in the grid (ninth). The Italian is seeking his 100th podium across all categories.
"There were still some damp patches on the track and I wasn't able to have a really fluid riding style there," he said. "It's a pity about the third row, but we are in quite good shape for the race."
Alex Rins sits third in the championship behind Dovizioso and starts 11th, while Takaaki Nakagami will begin his home race from 13th.
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
2. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
6. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
8. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team)
10. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
11. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
12. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar)
2018: Marc Marquez
2017: Andrea Dovizioso
2016 : Marc Marquez
2015: Dani Pedrosa
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 325
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 215 (110)
3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 167 (-158)
4. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 163 (-162)
5. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 162 (-163)
1. Ducati 377
2. Repsol Honda 358 (-19)
3. Monster Energy Yamaha 308 (-69)
4. Petronas Yamaha 233 (-144)
5. Suzuki Ecstar 229 (-148)
After a wet FP3 and damp FP4, conditions largely cleared for qualifying on Saturday. Sunday's forecast is presently for a dry and cloudy day, with temperatures reaching 25 degrees Celcius.