Marquez, Zarco take Motegi poles
Marc Marquez and Johann Zarco took pole position for the Moto2 and 125cc races at Motegi respectively.
Marquez (pictured) dealt his Moto2 title charge a major boost with a commanding display in qualifying at Motegi, as current leader Stefan Bradl could only qualify eighth.
Marquez was on top for almost the entire session, setting an early pace on the Catalunya Suter that left him three tenths clear until times dropped in the final minutes.
His only serious competition came in the form of a late rally from Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Suter), who came within 0.07s of finally displacing Marquez at the top.
Marquez reacted to the charge and both riders were on faster laps as the chequered flag fell. While Luthi hit traffic in the third sector, Marquez was able to further extend his advantage, setting a 1m52.067s to seal his seventh pole in the last nine races.
Luthi finished second, his first front-row start since the fourth round at France, while Andrea Iannone (Speed Master Suter) completed a front-row sweep for Suter as he improved late on to take third.
That left Tech 3's Bradley Smith in fourth, from where he will share the second row with Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Moriwaki) and Simone Corsi (Ioda FTR).
Alex de Angelis (JIR Motobi) was another late improver, demoting Bradl (Kiefer Kalex) to eighth. Bradl's championship lead therefore looks precarious, the gap over Marquez having fallen from 82 points to just six over the past seven races.
Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP Suter) and Mattia Pasini (Ioda FTR) rounded out the top ten in a session which featured several heavy crashes.
Randy Krummenacher on the Kiefer Kalex was the first victim, a huge high-side on the final corner of the first lap bringing his qualifying to a very early close.
Pol Espargaro was then lucky to escape from serious injury as he crashed on the final corner right in front of Kenny Noyes. Noyes had no time to react and squeezed his bike between Espargaro and the stricken Speed Up FTR.
With ten minutes to go, Max Neukirchner (NZ) and Sergio Gadea - who stepped up to Moto2 on the G22 Moriwaki in the last race at Aragon - both ended in the gravel.
Zarco produced an emphatic late display in qualifying to seal his third 125cc pole of the season at Motegi.
The Frenchman, still chasing his first win this year, was the only rider to break the 1m48s barrier, while his final three laps would all have earned him pole.
As it was his fastest time, a 1m57.888s, left him almost a quarter of a second clear of the Aspar Aprilia of Hector Faubel, who demoted team-mate and championship leader Nicolas Terol to third in the final minutes.
Terol was the first of the frontrunners to show his hand, at one point moving 0.6s clear of the field before Zarco and Faubel's late charges left him with the final spot on the front row.
Fourth went to early pacesetter Maverick Vinales on the Blusens Aprilia, which was the last bike to get within 1s of Zarco.
Alberto Moncayo's Aprilia was almost half a second back but managed to hang on to fifth, as Efren Vazquez missed out by just 0.065s with his final flying effort.
Aprilia riders rounded out the top 10, with Sandro Cortese heading Jonas Folger, Adrian Martin and Alessandro Tonucci.
There were falls for Shun'ya Mori, on Simone Grotzki's Phonica Aprilia, and Luis Salom on the RW Racing GP. Salom fell early but did enough to secure 12th, while Mori will start from 32nd ahead of fellow Japanese riders Takehiro Yamamoto (Nobby Honda) and Jun Ohnishi (Project u Honda).