McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne scored his maiden pole position in the Japanese Super Formula series on Saturday at Fuji Speedway.
Vandoorne, 24, moved into Super Formula for 2016 after winning the GP2 Series last year to keep sharp ahead of a possible Formula 1 debut.
The Belgian deputized for the injured Fernando Alonso in the Bahrain Grand Prix, scoring a point on debut by finishing 10th.
Vandoorne is in a two-man race for a seat at McLaren in 2017 alongside Alonso, with Jenson Button’s future uncertain.
On Saturday, Vandoorne did his chances a world of good by taking his first Super Formula pole in just his third race in the series.
On a damp track after rain early in qualifying, Vandoorne posted a time of 1:40.778 in Q3 to beat defending champion Hiroaki Ishiura by three-tenths of a second and pick up pole.
Vandoorne sits fifth in the championship after two rounds, having finished third on debut at Suzuka before failing to score any points at Okayama, crossing the line 12th.