The Yamaha Factory Racing Team has laid down a marker ahead of the 40th running of the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour endurance event by grabbing pole position in a tight Superpole shootout on Saturday evening.

Of its three riders, it was factory test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga that posted the quickest time of the day, with a 2m 6.038s enough to seal top spot from Yoshimura Suzuki Racing by a little over two tenths of a second.

Nakasuga had bettered Yoshimura Suzuki's Takuya Tsuda's quickest time in the closing minutes of the session held in the late afternoon before Englishman Alex Lowes took to the track in the final moments to place as the fastest of them all.

Lowes was on course to better his team-mate's time, but a slight mistake at Suzuka's final hairpin meant he crossed the finish line (and the 8 Hour's famous flag man) 0.2s off Nakasuga's best.

Still, that was of little concern as the pair and third rider Michael van der Mark - joined by three time 500cc world champion Kenny Roberts Senior - celebrated the factory's third straight pole position at the event. A win tomorrow would extend Yamaha's winning streak here to three years.

It could have been oh so different had Yoshimura Suzuki's Sylvain Guintoli not fallen while on his flying lap, the 2014 World Superbike champion thoroughly disappointed with his efforts after a costly fall.

England's Leon Haslam put in a fine showing to take his Team Green Kawasaki squad to an impressive third aboard the ZX-10RR, his fastest time clocking in just one tenth of a second off second place.

Honda had made its intentions of ending Yamaha's recent domination of the race known well before the event got underway, but factory bosses may be slightly concerned that its quickest entry was some 0.6s off Nakasuga's best.

It was FCC TSR Honda's Dominique Aegerter whose fastest time took his outfit to fourth on the grid, narrowly pipping the factory's second big entry - MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda by 0.071s. Of the latter squad, it was Takaaki Nakagami who was quickest to ensure they start Sunday's race from fifth.

Endurance veteran Broc Parkes' YART Yamaha team was sixth quickest, ahead of Yuki Takahashi's Moriwaki Motul Honda squad in seventh. Honda Suzuka Racing Team were eighth with rider Daijiro Hiura the quickest from their garage.

Team Kagayama Suzuki was ninth, thanks to a time of 2m 8.616s from Moto2 rider Hafizh Syahrin, with Dimas Ekky rounding out the top ten aboard the SatuHATI Honda Team Asia CBR 1000RR SP2.

Nakasuga's fastest Saturday time came very close (0.038s) to bettering Pol Espargaro's two year pole record of 2m 6.000s.

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