Team TOM’S duo Ryo Hirakawa and Nick Cassidy topped a close Super GT qualifying session at Buriram, which ended with Lexus, Nissan and Honda separated by just 0.113s at the front.
Hirakawa was the first driver to set a representative laptime in the second part of GT500 qualifying, his 1m26.162s standing strong for most of the session.
Team Impul’s Jann Mardenborough, whose teammate Hironobu Yasuda was fastest in the first stage of qualifying, managed to demote him with two minutes left, and the Briton improved again to lead with a 1m25.060s when the chequered flag fell.
However, Hirakawa fought back and narrowly outpaced him with a 1m25.011s, claiming the #37 Team TOM’S entry’s first pole of the season.
Mardenborough couldn’t improve on his final flyer and took second for Nissan, which had an otherwise quiet qualifying as the #12 Impul machine was the only GT-R to make it to Q2.
That meant championship leaders Tsugio Matsuda and Ronnie Quintarelli went out in Q1, and are set to start from 11th on the grid.
Koudai Tsukakoshi and Takashi Kogure in the #17 Real Racing entry brought Honda into the top three, the former falling just over a tenth short of the pole time.
The top five was completed by two more Lexus cars, the #6 Team LeMans car of Kazuya Oshima and Andrea Caldarelli and the #38 Zent Cerumo entry of Yuji Tachikawa and Hiroaki Ishiura.
Audi Hitotsuyama takes GT300 pole by a second
Masataka Yanagida and Richard Lyons dominated qualifying for the GT300 category, with the latter topping the first stage before the former taking pole by 1.012s.
Lyons, champion of Super GT in 2004, took his first pole position in the series in eight years.
Yuichi Nakayama was the closest driver in the #51 LM Corsa Lexus, as he secured second for himself and Sho Tsuboi after the chequered flag fell.
Team Aguri BMW’s Shinichi Takagi and Sean Walkinshaw were a further three tenths behind, narrowly beating Goodsmile Racing pair Nobuteru Taniguchi and Tatsuya Kataoka.
Championship leaders Haruki Kurosawa and Naoya Gamou of the #65 Leon Racing Mercedes were second in the first part of qualifying but had to settle for ninth in Q2.