Jonathan Rea has followed up yesterday’s lap record at Suzuka by securing pole position for the #11 Kawasaki Team Green for this year’s iconic endurance race with #33 Red Bull Honda with Japan Post slotting into second in front of defending champions Yamaha.

Following qualifying practice on Friday when Rea produced a new circuit lap record of 2m 05.168s, the reigning World Superbike champion was the head of the field again with a 2m 05.403s, slightly slower due to track conditions, to take pole position.

Rea’s team-mate Leon Haslam had initially taken provisional pole with his opening lap in the 40-minute top 10 qualifying, which replaced the traditional superpole shootout due to uncertain weather conditions, before Rea increased the pace into the mid 2m 05s using Bridgestone’s qualifying tyres.

The factory Honda squad of Takumi Takahashi, Takaaki Nakagami and PJ Jacobsen grabbed second ahead of the #21 Yamaha Factory Racing Team of Michael van der Mark, Alex Lowes and Katsuyuki Nakasuga but just 0.043s – but both teams were over seven-tenths of a second off Rea’s pole time.

The #643 MuSASHi RT HARC-Pro Honda squad of Dominique Aegerter, Ryo Mizuno and Randy de Puniet slots into fourth place after also impressing in qualifying to jump ahead of both front-running Suzuki squads.

The #12 Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing team of Takuya Tsuda, Sylvain Guintoli and rookie Bradley Ray had to settle for fifth ahead of the #95 S-Pulse Dream Racing Suzuki team of Tommy Bridewell, Kazuki Watanabe and Hideyuki Ogata.

Endurance World Championship title fighters #7 YART Yamaha recovered from a tricky start to the 2018 Suzuka 8 Hours to qualify seventh with title rivals #5 F.C.C TSR Honda missing out on the top ten session down in 12th.



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