Makino was best of the non-Toyota drivers in Saturday's Q2 pole shootout, putting the #100 Team Kunimitsu NSX-GT he shares with Naoki Yamamoto behind only the Rookie Racing and SARD GR Supras.
Toyota dominated last year's Okayama opener, sweeping the top five in qualifying and top four in the race, and once again the GR Supra was the car to have on Saturday with five of its six cars advancing to Q2.
However, Makino is optimistic that he and Yamamoto have the chance to prevent another Toyota washout on Sunday thanks to their strong race pace.
"It was a difficult situation for me in practice," Makino told Motorsport.com. "My best lap was a 1m18.5s, so to find two seconds [for qualifying] was very difficult, also to adjust the car. But in the end P3 was not a bad result for us and especially for Honda. I think we can fight from there.
"Q1 is really tight, and today’s biggest point was Yamamoto-san making it through Q1. This was a big highlight. That was important for us."
On his and Yamamoto's prospects for the race, Makino added: "The race pace is not bad actually. I know it’s difficult to fight Toyota because their straight speed is better than ours.
"Let’s see what we can do in a race situation but I think our long-run pace is good, and the tyres should be fine for higher temperatures. It should be ok, hopefully. I think we can fight the Toyotas."
This weekend's Okayama opener takes on extra significance for Makino and Yamamoto, as it marks the first SUPER GT event since the death of legendary team founder Kunimitsu Takahashi.
Makino said the situation only added to the team's determination to score its third GT500 title and avenge last year's dramatic defeat.
"We always want to focus on winning, but especially this season," Makino said on Takahashi's tragic passing. "It’s a big motivation for us. Of course it’s sad news about 'Kuni-san' but we want to fight for the championship again because this was his hope for us.
"Last year we lost the chance to win consecutive titles, so [reclaiming the title] really important for us and Honda. This is our target. This year is for 'Kuni-san'."
Nojiri "frustrated" with Q1 elimination
Team Kunimitsu was the only of the five Hondas to make it out of Q1, with the next-best of the NSX-GTs being the ARTA car of Tomoki Nojiri and Nirei Fukuzumi in 10th place.
Nojiri admitted it was "very frustrating" to miss out on a Q2 spot but was able to take heart from Team Kunimitsu's performance as he eyes a recovery in Sunday's 300km opener.
"In the morning we did a long run in preparation for tomorrow and we are not so worried about that, so I think there’s a positive there, but of course it would have been better to qualify a bit further ahead," Nojiri told Motorsport.com.
"I want to aim for the podium. Overtaking is difficult at Okayama, and often a lot of ‘tricky’ things happen, so I want to keep focus and fight until the end.
"[Toyota's performance] was as we expected. I thought they would be fast, and so it was. But the #100 car was able to fight well, they qualified third, so that means we are more competitive than we were last year."