Strakka Racing lost out on pole position among the LMP1 privateer teams in the final minute of qualifying, Neel Jani just beating Danny Watts for the honour for the Six Hours of Fuji.

All five of the cars competing for the LMP1 teams points on the weekend took to the track at the same time, towards the end of the 20 minute qualifying session for the LMP1 and LMP2 entrants. Watts set the pace with a lap of 1:30.051 in Strakka’s HPD ARX-03a, taking provisional pole by four-hundredths of a second ahead of Jani.

However, it was Jani who stole pole position with his final flying lap of the session, moving the benchmark 0.180 seconds quicker than Watts’ time.

Though the British driver – for the Silverstone based team – tried to respond, setting his personal best time though the middle sector of the lap on his own final lap of the session – a slow final sector left him unable to take back the position.

“We knew that finding a clear lap when the Michelin tyres were at their peak working temperature was going to be crucial, so we left it late before going on track,” said Watts. “The car feels really well balanced in the high speed middle sector, and we’ve got great traction in the technical slow speed final sector, so I think we’ve got a really strong package heading into the race tomorrow and are looking in good shape for another strong result.”

The Strakka Racing threesome of Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis must win this weekend, with Rebellion Racing finishing third or worse to take the LMP1 teams’ championship battled to the final round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) round in Shanghai.