Pol Espargaro puts Yamaha on pole position for the 2015 Suzuka 8 Hours
Yamaha Factory Racing Team rider Pol Espargaro rode a lap to remember in Saturday’s Top 10 Trial at Suzuka Circuit, setting a new unofficial lap record time of 2’06.000 to put himself and teammates Bradley Smith and Katsuyuki Nakasuga on pole for the 38th Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race.
Pol Espargarò – “I feel very happy, because this was a challenge for me and I did not expect this result. We did just one test with Bradley and Nakasuga in the preseason on the dry and we didn‘t ride a lot on this track. Bradley was also fast this weekend, his pace was very similar and the same with Nakasuga, he was also very fast. Tomorrow we have the big show and it will be difficult, because anything can happen, but we are confident. When I saw my lap time I was a bit surprised because I never tested the softer rear tyre during the tests or this weekend and I never rode in Superpole before with only one lap. Here today we had just one shot and in your mind you‘re always checking the lap and thinking of where you could improve something. Maybe I could have improved in the last sector, because I relaxed a little bit and was wary of making a mistake in the chicane. When I saw the time I said “come on!”, because it would be difficult for someone to beat it, but when I saw the lap time of Nakasuga-san I was a bit scared, he was also very fast, but I was lucky that I was fast in T1 and this gave me a chance, but Nagasuga was very strong in T4 and I was worried again. I‘m happy because I did a good lap time, but Nakasuga was also under the record and Bradley showed good potential over the whole weekend. Our pace is really similar and this is more important than the pole.”
Katsuyuki Nakasuga – “I‘m really happy, but at the same time I wish my lap time had been faster. I‘m very happy for my teammate [Espargarò], he did so well, but I wished I could have gone faster too, but I did my best. I‘m not satisfied that Pol was faster than me, I tried to beat his time but I couldn‘t and that was unfortunate for me, but this is a good result for tomorrow and we are all going to try to do our best. I learned a lot today and I will use the experience I gained today, and perhaps tomorrow, in the Japan Championship, which I race in.”
Bradley Smith – “First of all a big congratulations to my teammate, at the end of the day our team management made the right call with who they chose for the Superpole, both guys were riding extremely fast. I‘m happy to be starting the race from first position tomorrow for the team, but it‘s a bit different to do one lap compared to more than 200 in tomorrow‘s race. I hope we get a good night sleep, calm down from the excitement and be ready to do it all again tomorrow.”
Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager Wataru Yoshikawa – “Pol and [Katsuyuki] Nakasuga were able to run super lap times on it in the 2‘06 range, and we also had no need to use the race machine, so we are satisfied with today‘s results. However, the important thing is the race tomorrow. We are competing as a Yamaha Factory Team and our goal is to finish the race with the maximum laps of 218 using the EWC machine. If we can run that many laps, we believe we can win the race. To do this, I am going to stress again in our final meeting that we want the riders to run cautiously, keeping safe margins of space between themselves and the other [slower] machines they will encounter.”
Espargaro’s breath-taking time was 0.287 seconds quicker than the man who topped the timesheets in Friday’s provisional qualifying sessions, Team Green’s Kazuki Watanabe, who took runner-up honours in the Top 10 Shootout with a time of 2’06.287.
On his long-anticipated return to competitive action, Casey Stoner ensured that MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO were the third quickest team today with a lap time of 2’06.335 on his Honda CBR1000RR.
Yoshimura Suzuki will start from fourth place on the grid after Takuya Tsuda put-in a lap of 2’06.516 aboard the team’s GSX-R1000.
Takuya Tsuda – “We have concentrated on finding a good setting for tomorrow’s race. We could not get the pole position today and I am feeling a little disappointed, but we did our best. The important thing is tomorrow’s race and today I concentrated on this.”
Just behind in fifth place was Team Kagayama, with team owner Yukio Kagayama posting a best-lap of 2’07.990.
Tomorrow’s 38th “Coca-Cola Zero” Suzuka 8 Hours World Endurance Championship event gets underway at 11.30 local time.
Track temperatures for today’s Top 10 shootout hovered around the mid-50°C range. Bridgestone riders took the top four qualifying positions and all setting times quicker than the previous unofficial lap record of 2’06.706 which was in last year’s qualifying shootout by Yoshimura Suzuki’s Takuya Tsuda.
The 38th edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours starts Sunday, July 26, at 1130 local time (GMT +9).
2015 Suzuka 8 Hours: Top 10 Trial – Final classification – Saturday
- YAMAHA FACTORY RACING TEAM – Pol ESPARGARO – 2’06.000 – Bridgestone
- Team GREEN – Kazuki WATANABE – 2’06.287 – 0.287 – Bridgestone
- MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO – Casey STONER – 2’06.335 – 0.335 – Bridgestone
- YOSHIMURA SUZUKI Shell ADVANCE – Takuya TSUDA – 2’06.516 – 0.516 – Bridgestone
- Team KAGAYAMA – Yukio KAGAYAMA – 2’07.990 – 1.990 – Dunlop
- F.C.C. TSR Honda – Dominique AEGERTER – 2’08.076 – 2.076 – Bridgestone
- TOHO Racing with MORIWAKI – Tatsuya YAMAGUCHI – 2’08.382 – 2.382 – Bridgestone
- EVA RT TEST TYPE-01 TRICK STAR – Erwan NIGON – 2’08.950 – 2.950 – Dunlop
- Honda DREAM RT SAKURAI HONDA – Naomichi URAMOTO – 2’09.409 – 3.409 – Bridgestone
- MotoMap SUPPLY – Hideyuki OGATA – 2’11.019 – 5.019 – Bridgestone
Suzuka 8 Hours 2015 – Friday Qualifying Results
1 Team Green 2’06.656 TEAM GREEN KAWASAKI Team Green
2 YOSHIMURA SUZUKI Shell ADVANCE 2’06.958 YOSHIMURA SUZUKI Shell ADVANCE
3 Yamaha Factory Racing Team 2’06.877 YAMAHA FAC YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing Team
4 F.C.C. TSR Honda 2’07.798 JPN HONDA F.C.C. TSR Honda
5 MuSashi RT HARC-PRO 2’06.963 JPN HONDA MuSashi RT HARC-PRO
6 Honda DREAM RT SAKURAI 2’08.693 HONDA DREA HONDA Honda DREAM RT SAKURAI
7 Team KAGAYAMA 2’07.594 TEAM KAGAY SUZUKI Team KAGAYAMA
8 EVA RT TEST TYPE-01 TRICK STAR 2’09.117 EVA RT TES KAWASAKI EVA RT TRICK STAR
9 TOHO Racing with MORIWAKI 2’07.622 TOHO RACIN HONDA TOHO Racing with MORIWAKI
10 MotoMap SUPPLY 2’09.215 JPN SUZUKI MotoMap SUPPLY
11 Monster Energy Yamaha-YART 2’08.973 FRA YAMAHA Monster Energy Yamaha-YART
12 Au & Teluru Kohara RT 2’09.278 JPN HONDA Au & Teluru Kohara RT
13 Satu HATI Honda Team Asia 2’09.432 SATU HATI HONDA Satu HATI Honda Team Asia
14 BMW MOTORRAD France TEAM PENZ13 2’09.325 NA BMW BMW MOTORRAD France PENZ13
15 Honda Suzuka Racing Team 2’09.432 HONDA SUZU HONDA Honda Suzuka Racing Team
16 GMT94 Yamaha 2’09.871 NA YAMAHA GMT94 Yamaha
17 SRC Kawasaki 2’09.556 FRA KAWASAKI SRC Kawasaki
18 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team 2’10.222 FRA SUZUKI Suzuki Endurance Racing Team
19 CONFIA Flex Motorrad39 2’10.169 JPN BMW CONFIA Flex Motorrad39
20 Honda Endurance Racing CBR 2’10.342 GBR HONDA Honda Endurance Racing EWC
21 Team Bolliger Switzerland 2’12.099 NA KAWASAKI Team Bolliger Switzerland
22 Team Tenmei Sakura Project 2’10.971 JPN KAWASAKI Team Tenmei Sakura Project
23 Team Tras 135HP 2’12.548 TEAM TRAS BMW Team Tras 135HP
24 Honda Kumamoto Racing 2’11.512 HONDA KUMA HONDA Honda Kumamoto Racing
25 Team Hashimotogumi 2’12.845 TEAM HASHI SUZUKI Team Hashimotogumi
26 Y’s distraction Racing 2’11.833 JPN HONDA Y’s distraction Racing
27 HLO Racing with RANGER & Garage36 2’13.001 JPN SUZUKI HLO Racing
28 Team Honda Technical College 2’13.351 JPN HONDA Team Honda Technical College
29 Team April Moto/Motors Events 2’13.173 NA SUZUKI Team April Moto/Motors Events
30 TEAM HOOTERS KTM with Syota SAITO 2’13.558 TEAM HOOTERS KTM