A career best fourth place in Superpole for Okubo was almost a third place, until another rider pipped him to the final front row spot near the end of the 25 minute WorldSSP qualifying session. Just edged out from the top places Hikari was still the best Kawasaki rider in Superpole, at what he has always said is one of his favourite circuits.
Hikari now hopes to set another career best on raceday on Sunday the 17th of March, which would mean a finish of fifth place or better or the Japanese rider.
Mahias, the 2017 World Champion, was unable to set the kind of one lap pace he expected and will now start the 17-lap race on Sunday from the third row of the grid.
Hikari Okubo, stated: “My best performance yet in qualifying and I am happy, but my target was the top three. It is very important to start near the front here and my feeling is very good. I think I can catch the top three riders in the race; it is possible. Tomorrow I will try to go for the podium. My race pace is good and I have ridden in very hot conditions a few times on big bikes at the Suzuka 8 hours so my energy is good also. It will also be important to enjoy the race because I have not started so close to the top riders, but I am coming close to that level. I will be even happier if we can get on the podium tomorrow.”
Lucas Mahias stated: “It is not my best qualification but I am really happy because I improved my lap time compared to yesterday and this morning in FP3. It is difficult at times now for sure but I will try to do my best and continue to work for my mechanics. My job is to continue to work to improve the set-up and the pace, and take the Kawasaki onto the podium.”
Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was a tenth place qualifier in Superpole, one behind Mahias. Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer Kawasaki) was only cleared to ride on Friday but put in a strong qualifying performance after recent injury, finishing in 17th place from 24 riders in Thailand. Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team Kawasaki) is 19th on the grid now and Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 22nd.