Suzuka 8 Hours: Yamaha scores third straight pole
Yamaha Factory Racing secured its third successive pole at Suzuka 8 Hours after two-time race winner Katsuyuki Nakasuga set the fastest time in Saturday’s Top 10 Trials shootout.
The #19 Moriwaki Honda squad set the initial pace, with Ryuichi Kiyonari clocking a time of 2m08.178s around the Suzuka Circuit. Daijiro Hiura of #25 Honda Suzuka matched his pace 30 minutes into the session before Kiyonari’s teammate Yuki Takahashi went quicker still with 2m08.041s.
The times tumbled when the second group of bikes took to the track, with Randy de Puniet immediately going a second faster with 2m07.156s.
De Puniet’s benchmark was further lowered by Nakasuga, who shares the #21 Yamaha YZR-R1 with Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark. The 33-year-old nearly matched Pol Espargaro’s all-time Suzuka 8 Hours pole record with a laptime of 2m06.038s.
Nakasuga's time remained unchallenged despite several attempts by rivals in the final 30 minutes of the session, ensuring Yamaha maintained its unbeaten record in qualifying since it returned to the endurance classic in 2015.
The #12 Yoshimura Suzuki crew of Sylvain Guintoli, Joshua Brookes and Takuya Tsuda emerged as Yamaha’s closest challenger, with the latter lapping two tenths slower than Nakasuga to qualify second.
Leon Haslam, Kazuma Watanabe and Azlan Shah qualified third on the grid for Kawasaki, which hasn’t won the race since 1993.
Despite having five bikes in top-10 shootout, Honda could best manage a fourth place grid slot with Dominique Aegerter, de Puniet and Stefan Bradl’s replacement Josh Hook in the #5 FCC TSR Honda.
The #634 HARC-Pro line-up of Takumi Takahashi, Takaaki Nakagami and MotoGP star Jack Miller completed the top five. Miller took no part in today’s qualifying session after the Honda team nominated their two Japanese riders for the shootout.
|1||21||Yamaha Factory Racing Team|| |
Michael van der Mark
|2||12||Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing|| |
Kawasaki Team Green
|4||5|| F.C.C. TSR Honda |
Randy de Puniet
Musashi RT HARC-Pro Honda
|6||7||YART Yamaha|| |
|7||19||Moriwaki Motul Racing|| |
Honda Suzuka Racing Team
|10||22||Honda Team Asia|| |
Dimas Ekky Pratama
Md Zaqhwan Zaidi
Suzuka 8 Hours: Yamaha on provisional pole after Friday
Suzuka 8 Hours: Yamaha in control at halfway mark