Espargaro scorches to Suzuka 8 Hours pole for Yamaha

Pol Espargaro set a blistering pace in final qualifying for the Suzuka 8 Hours to bag pole position for the factory Yamaha squad on its return to the event.

Espargaro scorches to Suzuka 8 Hours pole for Yamaha
#21 Yamaha: Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith
Pol Espargaro
#87 Kawasaki: Akira Yanagawa, Kazuki Watanabe
Casey Stoner
#634 Honda: Takumi Takahashi, Michael van der Mark, Casey Stoner

The Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP rider, who is new to the endurance event, smashed the track record at the Japanese circuit with his sensational effort of 2m06.000s, almost 1.7s faster than the previous benchmark set by Honda's Takumi Takahashi.

That proved good enough to take the top spot for himself and teammates Bradley Smith and Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who fell just 0.059s short of Espargaro's time on his subsequent run.

Team Green Kawasaki rider Kazuki Watanabe was the last man to take to the tarmac, and set the third best time of the session, a 2m06.287s, to take second spot for the bike he shares with Akira Yanagawa and Haji Ahmad Yudhistira.

Two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner, sharing with defending champions Takahashi and Michael van der Mark, meanwhile bagged third for the HARC Pro Honda squad on his Suzuka 8 Hours debut with a time of 2m06.335s, 1.3s faster than Takahashi's earlier effort.

Takuya Tsuda took fourth place for the Yoshimura Suzuki team ahead of Yukio Kagayama, the fastest man in the opening segment of the top 10 shootout, on the Team Kagayama Suzuki and Moto2 regular Dominique Aegerter aboard the FCC TSR Honda.

Top 10 shootout times - rider in bold set time:

Pos. No. Riders Bike Time Gap
21  Pol Espargaro
Bradley Smith
Katsuyuki Nakasuga
Yamaha 2'06.000  
87  Kazuki Watanabe
Akira Yanagawa
Haji Ahmad Yudhistra
Kawasaki 2'06.287 0.287
634 

Takumi Takahashi

Michael van der Mark

Casey Stoner

Honda 2'06.335 0.335
12 

Takuya Tsuda

Alex Lowes

Josh Waters

Suzuki 2'06.516 0.516
17  Yukio Kagayama
Noriyuki Haga
Ryuichi Kiyonari
Suzuki 2'07.990 1.990
778 

Josh Hook

Dominique Aegerter

Kyle Smith

Honda 2'08.076 2.076
104 

Tatsuya Yamaguchi

Toni Elias

Ratthapark Wilairot

Honda 2'08.382 2.382
 8   01 

Osamu Deguchi

Hitoyasu Izutsu

Erwan Nigon

Kawasaki 2'08.950 2.950
71 

Troy Herfoss

Jason O'Halloran

Naomichi Uramoto

Honda 2'09.409 3.409
10  32 

Yoshihiro Konno

Nobuatsu Aoki

Hideyuki Ogata

Suzuki 2'11.019 5.019
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