Suzuka 8 Hours: Rea, Kawasaki take dominant pole

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Suzuka 8 Hours: Rea, Kawasaki take dominant pole
Rachit Thukral
By: Rachit Thukral
Jul 28, 2018, 8:22 AM

Kawasaki claimed its first Suzuka 8 Hours pole since 1995, with triple World Superbikes champion Jonathan Rea setting the fastest time in the final qualifying on Saturday.

Due to overnight showers and threat of a looming typhoon, the superpole-style Top 10 Trials was scrapped in favour of a straightforward 40-minute session.

Bradley Ray set the initial pace for #12 Yoshimura Suzuki with a time of 2m06.642s, before Michael van der Mark went 0.171s quicker to put the #21 Factory Yamaha squad at the top of the timesheets.

Moments later Leon Haslam broke the 2m06s barrier, lapping the Suzuka circuit in 2m05.984s to uphold Kawasaki's Friday advantage.

Rea took over from his teammate later in the session and after a few warm-up laps bolted in a 2m05.722s to further edge ahead of rest of the field.

While pole position seemed certain at this stage, the 31-year-old managed to go quicker still with just four minutes left on clock, sealing top grid spot for himself, Haslam and Kazuma Watanabe with a time of 2m05.403s.

Honda qualified on the front row on its factory return to Suzuka 8 Hours, with LCR MotoGP rider Takaaki Nakagami, who shares the #33 bike with Takumi Takahashi and Camier's replacement PJ Jacobsen, setting the second fastest time of the session, 0.724s down on Rea's benchmark.

Yamaha's three-year pole streak ended this year, with Van der Mark, Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Alex Lowes qualifying third aboard the #21 YZF-R1.

The #634 HARC-Pro Honda of Dominique Aegerter, Ryo Mizuno and Randy de Puniet moved up to fourth with a late effort, demoting Yoshimura Suzuki trio Ray, Takuya Tsuda and Sylvain Guintoli.

Tsuda had an off around halfway through the session and Suzuki was unable to repair the bike in time for another run.

Meanwhile, the #95 S-Pulse Dream Racing team ended up just over a tenth behind the factory Suzuki in sixth but half a second clear of the #090 MotoUP Honda entry.

The #7 YART Yamaha squad, which is contention for the EWC title, qualified eighth, while the top 10 was completed by the #19 Moriwaki and #79 SuP Dream Hondas.

Suzuka 8 Hours - Final qualifying results

Pos.

No.

Riders

Team

Time/Gap

1

11

 Jonathan Rea

 Leon Haslam

 Kazuma Watanabe

Kawasaki Team Green

2m05.403s

2

33

 Takaaki Nakagami

 Takumi Takahashi

 PJ Jacobsen

Red Bull Honda

+0.724s

3

21

 Michael van der Mark

 Katsuyuki Nakasuga

 Alex Lowes

Yamaha Factory Racing

+0.767s

4

634

 Dominique Aegerter

 Ryo Mizuno

 Randy de Puniet

HARC-Pro Honda

0.774s

5

12

 Takuya Tsuda

 Sylvain Guintoli

 Bradley Ray

Yoshimura Suzuki

+1.239s

6

95

 Kazuki Watanabe

 Tommy Bridewell

 Hideyuki Ogata

S-Pulse Dream Suzuki

+1.353s

7

090

 Isaac Vinales

 Tetsuta Nagashima

 Kosuke Nagashima

MotoUP Honda

+1.843s

8

7

 Broc Parkes

 Marvin Fritz

 Takuya Fujita

YART Yamaha

+1.984s

9

19

 Ryuichi Kiyonari

 Yuki Takahashi

 Ratthapark Wilairot

Moriwaki Honda

+2.725s

10

79

 Kosuke Sakumoto

 Ryosuke Iwato

 Tatsuya Yamaguchi

Sup Dream Honda

+2.797s

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