Koudai Tsukakoshi and Bertrand Baguette dominated SUPER GT qualifying at Sugo, as reigning champions Jenson Button and Naoki Yamamoto secured their first front-row start of 2019.
Having topped the sole practice on Saturday morning for the penultimate round of the season, Honda squad Real Racing lowered the previous lap record by over half a second to take a second consecutive pole of 2019.
Ex-IndyCar racer Baguette safely navigated the #17 NSX-GT to the second part of qualifying, before Tsukakoshi delivered a time of 1m09.0676s on his late flyer.
That put the duo comfortably clear of the Kunimitsu NSX-GT of Button and Yamamoto, which won last year’s race from pole position and held the circuit’s previous lap record.
Q1 pacesetters Kazuki Nakajima and Yuhi Sekiguchi will start third in the #36 TOM’S Lexus, but will have to serve a 10-second stop/go penalty in the race for exceeding the allocation of two-engines per season.
Championship contenders Nick Cassidy and Ryo Hirakawa qualified fourth in the sister TOM’S Lexus, just 0.027s clear of the Bandoh Lexus of Yuji Kunimoto and Japanese hotshot Sho Tsuboi.
Nakajima Honda duo Narain Karthikeyan and Tadasuke Makino enjoyed their best qualifying result of the season in sixth.
B-Max pair Kohei Hirate and Frederick Makowiecki were seventh quickest in the only Nissan that made it to Q2, while championship leaders Kenta Yamashita and Kazuya Oshima (LeMans Lexus) propped up the top-eight.
Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa will line up ninth in the ARTA Honda, ahead of the factory-entered NISMO GT-R of Ronnie Quintarelli and Tsugio Matsuda.
Matsuda had to abort his final flyer after being struck behind the Cerumo Lexus of Hiroaki Ishiura and Yuji Tachikawa, which eventually qualified just one place behind in 11th.
Motorsport.tv will bring live coverage of this Sunday’s Sugo SUPER GT race to Autosport, with coverage starting at 6:00am BST.