Nick Cassidy secured his first Super Formula pole position of 2018 in a wet qualifying session at Fuji.
Every driver bar Le Mans 24 Hours winner Kazuki Nakajima started Q3 on slick tyres, but a heavy downpour forced them to return to the pits almost immediately.
That left Nakajima with a clear track and he quickly moved to the top of the timesheets with a time of 1m38.840s.
Nakajima’s time remained unbeaten until the very end of the session when Inging driver Hiroaki Ishiura posted a 1m38.786s to assume provisional pole.
For a while it appeared that Ishiura had things under control as the rain intensified, but Cassidy still managed to go faster than the defending champion with a late flyer to seal pole position.
Points leader Naoki Yamamoto also made a late improvement to grab a spot on the front row of the grid, ending two tenths adrift of Cassidy’s pole time of 1m38.098s.
Cassidy and Yamamoto demoted Ishiura and Nakajima to third and fourth places respectively, but the two drivers ended up comfortably ahead of fifth-placed Koudai Tsukakoshi.
The Impul pairing of Yuhi Sekiguchi and Ryo Hirakawa were classified sixth and seventh respectively, while 2016 champion Yuji Kunimoto was the slowest of the Q3 runners in eighth.
TOM’S driver James Rossiter and ex-Formula 2 racer Nobuharu Matsushita completed the top 10.
Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum will line up last on the grid after a late rain shower prevented him from progressing into Q2.
Pietro Fittipaldi’s replacement Tom Dillmann was another major causality in Q1 and will start two places ahead of Ticktum in 17th.