James Thompson admitted he was slightly frustrated at only qualifying in 14th place for the first Japanese World Touring Car Championship race weekend at the Okayama circuit.
In one of the closest qualifying sessions of the season, Thompson was less than three-tenths of a second away from putting his N.Technology Honda Accord inside the top eight on the grid – something he admitted was somewhat frustrating.
"We had a really successful second free practice session this morning, and with the field so close, we were a tiny margin outside a top-eight position,” he said. “It is a little frustrating for three-tenths of a second to cause such a significant change on the grid. It will be a tough race, but the car has proved it is competitive."
Team-mate Yukinori Taniguchi, secured 23rd place on the grid and was third quickest of the Japanese drivers ahead of his home race.
"To be the third-fastest Japanese driver at my second meeting in this car is good,” he said, “my experience at Okayama has definitely helped me. I have not had much time on the track in this car but am confident that I can improve my position in tomorrow's race."
Team manager Andrea Muller said he was happy with how the session had panned out, despite Thompson being so close to a place inside the top ten.
"James had a strong qualifying session,” he said. “The WTCC is a very competitive championship and with the field so close, the smallest time difference has a huge effect. The traffic in the last three minutes was incredible; James was set for a quicker lap but unfortunately the last sector was two-tenths slower than in the first lap, which would have put us eighth on the grid.
"Yuke has once again been strong and consistent; he did not make any mistakes during the session. Although he knows the track well, he is not used to the car and with more mileage his grid position would improve. To be the third Japanese driver in this world-class championship is a good result."