Marquez lifted by first pole in three years at wet Motegi
Marc Marquez savoured his first pole position for three years at the Grand Prix of Japan but is realistic about his chances of winning the race on Sunday.
Marquez only returned following a three-month absence in the last round at Aragon after undergoing a fourth operation on his right arm.
The Repsol Honda rider was back in business on a wet Saturday in Motegi, where there was a 90-minute delay to the schedule due to heavy rain before the Spaniard clocked a fastest lap of one minute, 55.214 seconds to take his first pole for 1,071 days.
Johann Zarco took second place behind the six-time MotoGP champion, with Brad Binder securing third for a race that is forecast to be run in drier conditions.
Championship leader Fabio Quartararo could only qualify in ninth, with Aleix Espargaro the best placed of the title contenders in sixth and Francesco Bagnaia back in 12th.
Marquez was thrilled to finally put himself at the front of the grid and hopes his exploits can give his team a lift, but knows it will be a different story come race day.
He said: "I'm really happy to be back in pole position. It's only pole position, it's in wet, but in the situation we are in right now with team right now, it's really good news for us.
"We need the small achievements, we need the motivations. I'm happy, it was the time to do it. I feel like in FP2 the lap time was coming and if it's wet in the afternoon I have a big chance.
"That's what I did, I tried to attack and I did a good lap, I didn't exaggerate but it was enough to be on pole position. Tomorrow will be a different story, but today we must be happy."
Enea Bastianini's hopes of stepping up a title challenge were rocked by a crash in Q1. He is set to start 15th.
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) – 1:55.214
2. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) +0.208s
3. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +0.323s
4. Maverick Viñales (Aprilia) +0.406s
5. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) +0.472s
6. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +0.557s
7. Jack Miller (Ducati) +0.570s
8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +0.681s
9. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) +1.112s
10. Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) +1.140s