Stefano D'Aste produced one of the strongest qualifying performances of the season from an Independent runner to secure the seventh quickest time ahead of the first World Touring Car Championship event on Japanese soil.
The Proteam Motorsport driver hadn't found the going easy during testing and practice at the Okayama circuit but with his car sorted by the Italian team, was on the pace when the 30 minute qualifying session kicked off.
Initially it looked like Japanese racer Takayuki Aoki was going to secure the class pole, but D'Aste produced a stunning lap of 1min 37.534secs to put him seventh on the grid – which becomes sixth following Gabriele Tarquini's grid penalty.
That was six places ahead of Proteam team-mate Sergio Hernandez, who jumped ahead of Aoki late in the session.
“The team did a great job today after the problems I suffered with my shock absorbers in the previous sessions,” D'Aste admitted. “I showed that we can be very quick once the problems are sorted out, but if we push too much then the tyres would be damaged.
“It is great to have qualified seventh. It must be one of the best Independents' qualifying positions ever.”