Alain Menu says he is confident of fighting for a place on the podium after qualifying on the second row of the grid for the penultimate rounds of the World Touring Car Championship.
The Swiss star led the way for Chevrolet during the session at Okayama and posted the fifth quickest time at the wheel of his Lacetti.
However, with Gabriele Tarquini forced to take a five place penalty for the opening race for an indiscretion in the second race of the weekend at Monza, Menu found himself promoted into fourth place.
“My first lap was good, but I knew there was still a tenth or two to be found somewhere,” he said. “Then on my second lap the car suddenly snapped into oversteer in turn two, so that put paid to that effort. But it's good to start fourth with a genuine possibility of finishing on the podium.”
Rob Huff, Chevrolet's remaining hope for the drivers' title, also benefitted from Tarquini's penalty as he secured seventh on the grid.
“It was a difficult session, with the track coming and going, but overall I'm pretty pleased with my performance,” he said. “I'm just two tenths off Alain who is running a lot lighter, so I'm quite happy with being seventh on the grid.
“It is also good to be behind Stefano D'Aste on the grid as he hopefully will try to move up and maybe create some space for me to follow him through. If not, I hope to get as many points as possible in race one.”
Having lost out on his quickest lap when yellow flags flew after Matthew Marsh went off into the gravel, Nicola Larini will start down in 19th place with Manabu Orido two places further back in 21st.