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.
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:
|1||21||Pol Espargaro |
|2||87||Kazuki Watanabe |
Haji Ahmad Yudhistra
Michael van der Mark
|5||17||Yukio Kagayama |
Smith “feeling pressure” ahead of Suzuka 8 Hours debut
Stoner in violent Suzuka 8 Hours crash after throttle jams