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Suzuka 8 Hours: Honda beats Yamaha to pole in Top 10 Trials

Honda claimed pole position for the 2023 Suzuka 8 Hours after usurping the YART Yamaha team in the Top 10 Trials shootout on Saturday.

Takumi Takahashi, #33 Team HRC with Japan Post

Photo by: Mobilityland

Xavi Vierge and Tetsuta Nagashima combined to set an average time of 2m05.624s at the Suzuka circuit, claiming pole position by 0.193s on the #33 factory HRC entry they share with Takumi Takahashi.

YART had been the pacesetter in the opening two legs of qualifying for the Japanese motorcycle enduro, topping all three sessions on Saturday morning.

YART also had the edge in the first part of Top 10 Trials, with Karel Hanika setting a time of 2m05.519s to comfortably beat his HRC rival Vierge by four tenths of a second.

However, Nagashima then went on to set a blistering time of 2m.05.329s after taking over the Honda CBR1000RR-R from Vierge, while Marvin Fritz could only manage a 2m06.115s aboard the Yamaha R1 in the second half of the shootout.

This swung the pendulum back in HRC’s favour, as the factory Honda team made it back-to-back poles in the Suzuka 8 Hours following its qualifying success in 2022.

HRC and YART were once again a class apart from the rest of the field, with no rider from any of the remaining teams able to set an individual lap time in the 2m05s bracket.

The best of the rest was the Toho Racing Honda entry of Ryuichi Kiyonari and Ikuhiro Enokido in third.

Six of the 10 teams inside the final part of qualifying ran Honda machinery, such was the Sakura-based marque's pace advantage over the rest, with the YART Yamaha and three Suzuki squads the only exceptions.

However, Honda's flagship team in the Endurance World Championship, FCC TSR, suffered drama when new recruit Tarran Mackenzie crashed at the chicane during his run.

This left his team-mate Mike di Meglio's time of 2m07.788s immaterial, as the FCC TSR squad had to contend with 10th place on the grid.

The factory BMW Motorrad team missed out on a spot in Top 10 trials by just over a tenth of a second, leaving the #37 entry shared by Markus Reiterberger, Illya Mykhalchyk and Jeremy Guarnoni 11th on the grid.

The absence of a factory Kawasaki team hurt the Japanese manufacturer’s prospects, with the customer Webike Trickstar team managing only the 12th-fastest time on the #11 ZX-10RR.

Top 10 Trials (fastest individual times):

1. #33 Team HRC with Japan Post 2m05.329
2.#7 YART Yamaha Official EWC TEAM 2m05.519
3. #104 TOHO Racing 2m06.343s
4. #73 SDG Honda Racing 2m06.644s
5.#12 Yoshimura SERT Motul 2m06.720s
6.#17 Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing 2m06.756s
7.#76 AutoRace Ube Racing Team 2m06.811s
8.#71 Honda Dream RT SAKURAI HONDA 2m06.970s
9. #95 S-PLUSE DREAM RACING -ITEC 2m07.780s
10. #1 FCC TSR Honda France 2m07.788s

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