Gabriele Tarquini admitted he was surprised to secure pole position for the penultimate round of the World Touring Car Championship season at Okayama after securing his slot at the head of the field.

The Italian, who leads the way by seven points going into the weekend, had been quoted before the weekend as suggesting that the SEAT Leon TDi wouldn't be well suited to the Japanese venue, but he was still able to edge out BMW pair Andy Priaulx and Jorg Muller to snare his third successive pole position.

"Getting pole has been key in past races but we didn't expect it here," he said. "I was surprised to get pole and I was helped by [Jordi] Gene who gave me a good slipstream. Being away from trouble in the rolling start is important and pole position gives you 90 per cent safety."

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However, Tarquini admitted that it would be difficult to replicate his pace on race day when he expects BMW to be the pacesetters.

"I'm very happy with this result, but the pole doesn't give you extra points," he said. "I'm convinced that on a dry track it will be difficult to follow the race pace of the BMW. Therefore I'll focus on scoring as many points as possible, not only in the first race but in all those to follow, including Macau."