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FIM Endurance Suzuka 8 Hours

YART Yamaha confident of Suzuka prospects after missing pole

The YART Yamaha team remains upbeat about its Suzuka 8 Hours chances after qualifying second on the grid for the Japanese motorcycle enduro.

#7 YART YAMAHA OFFICIAL TEAM EWC

In the absence of a factory entry from Kawasaki, YART has taken up the mantle as nearest challengers to the works Honda team, topping the opening two legs of qualifying and finishing right behind the pole-sitting HRC squad in the Top 10 shootout.

Karel Hanika and Marvin Fritz combined to set an average lap time of 2m05.817s on the #7 Yamaha R1 they share with Niccolo Canepa, missing out on pole position by just under two tenths to Honda trio Xavi Vierge, Tetsuta Nagashima and Takumi Takahashi.

As YART is a full-season entrant in the FIM Endurance World Championship, its primary goal is to finish ahead of the FCC TSR team that qualified 10th after new recruit Tarran Mackenzie crashed at the chicane.

However, the Austrian squad is also gunning for a maiden podium in the Suzuka 8 Hours, having come close on a number of occasions in the past against heavy opposition from works entries.

“Basically our goal is to finish on the podium because YART has never done it before,” said Hanika. “So far it looks good, but you never know what happens in the race. We’ll try to stay focused throughout our stints, and try to keep the pace we know we are capable of doing.

“It will definitely be tough because you never know how the conditions will be at Suzuka. We just need to stay focused and ahead of our competitors from the EWC and do the best possible job.”

Hanika posted a time of 2m05.519s in the first part of the Top 10 Trials to outpace Vierge, but YART had no answer to HRC’s pace when Nagashima lapped the circuit in 2m05.329s while going up against Fritz.

Speaking about his qualifying performance, Hanika said: “It was very good. It was also my first time [in Top 10 Trials], so I need to learn for the future to be more aggressive in sector one, because it’s where we lose the most compared to HRC.

“We’ve been working all week on race pace, so the last two days were a qualifying push so a different job, but I think we did great job and definitely looking forward to tomorrow’s race."

Fritz lost ground in the final sector and could only set a time of 2m06.115s, but hopes YART can achieve its dream of finishing on the podium for the first time come Sunday.

"Unfortunately my lap wasn’t perfect, I had a bad third sector, the second one was good, but in the end Karel did an amazing laptime," he said.

“The most important thing is we worked so hard from the test until now, the bike and tyres are working well, the set-up is good, and I think we have a good package for the race tomorrow.

“Many things can happen in 8 Hours, especially with the weather. But a podium would be like a dream for us. We also have the championship in mind, so the goal is to finish in front of FCC [TSR] and SERT [Suzuki].”

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