After being fourth in qualifying, Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance Team took pole position with an historic lap in the Top 10 session by Takuya Tsuda of 2’06.703.
This supersedes the 2012 performance by Katsuyuki Nakasuga (2’06.817) who this year takes second place on the grid with a time of 2’07.094 for the Monster Energy Yamaha Team with YSP, ahead of the FCC TSR Honda squad, who for a long time topped the hotly contested Superpole session thanks to a lap of 2’07.398 by Jonathan Rea.
The English rider seemed quite surprised by his performance this afternoon at Suzuka. Riding the FCC TSR Honda, Jonathan Rea has gone from a time of 2’09.062 during yesterday’s qualifying to 2’07.398 in the Top 10 shoot out. Kawasaki’s Team Green confirmed its good performance this weekend by taking fourth place on the grid just in front of the Honda Musashi Harc-Pro Team who gave away their first place in qualifying and will now start in fifth position tomorrow.
In sixth position Team Kagayama & Verity are in front of the Honda Suzuka Racing Team and the Honda Endurance Racing Team, the latter of which were the only permanent squad who took part in Superpole, which is reserved for the top ten from qualifying. The Honda Racing Endurance Team therefore start in 8th place on the grid. Sébastien Gimbert was unable to better his performance in qualifying, but Julien Da Costa has greatly improved his best time of 2’09.891.
The Toho Racing Team with Moriwaki (Honda) and the Legend of Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance occupy the final two places in the Top 10 and on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
The 37th edition of the Suzuka 8 hours will start tomorrow, Sunday at 11.30hrs (GMT +9 h) with the finish due at 19.30hrs, a little over half an hour after sunset. 70 teams will take part in the race, the maximum number of machines allowed for this event at Suzuka.
Top-10 Time Trial Results / Grid
1 Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 2’06.703,
2 Monster Energy Yamaha (Yamaha) 2’07.094,
3 FCC TSR Honda (Honda) 2’07.398,
4 Team GREEN (Kawasaki) 2’07.752,
5 MuSASHI RT HARC-PRO (Honda) 2’07.827,
6 Team Kagayama and Verity (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 2’08.483,
7 8 Honda Suzuka Racing Team (Honda) 2’08.976,
8 Honda Endurance Racing (Honda) 2’09.224,
9 TOHO Racing with MORIWAKI (Honda) 2’09.383,
10 Legend of Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 2’09.775.
Suzuka 8-Hour Regular Combined Qualifying Results:
Yoshimura Suzuki will start from Pole Position in tomorrow’s 37th Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8-Hour World Endurance Championship second round in Japan after recording the fastest-ever Top-10 Time Trial lap in the history of the event.
Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance team rider Takuya Tsuda – who was paired with fellow Suzuki MotoGP Test Team rider Randy De Puniet and Australia’s Joshua Waters – set a blistering time of 2’06.703 around the 5.821km circuit on the #34 GSX-R1000 beating the previous record of 2’06.817 set by Monster Energy Yamaha’s Katsuyuki Nakasuga in 2012.
A total of 20 riders took part in this afternoon’s Top-10 Trial – two nominated team riders from yesterday 10 fastest qualifiers – as Nakasuga, paired with Australian Josh Brookes, set a lap of 2’07.094 to claim second place on the grid.
Suzuki’s Team Kagayama and Verity secured sixth place on the grid as Yukio Kagayama and young Swiss team-mate Dominique Aegerter raced their GSX-R1000 to a best lap of 2’08.483 and bettering their lap time from yesterday’s qualifying result. The #12 Legend of Yoshimura Shell Advance team round-out the top-10; former World 500cc GP Champion Kevin Schwantz and Suzuki MotoGP Test Team rider Nobuatsu Aoki recording a time of 2’09.775 on their GSX-R1000.
After setting his Suzuka record, a delighted Tsuda said: “I am very happy with getting the Pole Position and getting the best time. This is my first challenge in the Top-10 Trial and the result is better than I imagined.”
Team-mate De Puniet, who clocked the highest speed of 288 km/h through the speed-trap, said: “Suzuka is very nice track to race on, but I am not really satisfied with my performance today. But Takuya put-in a great time, so I hope we can have a wonderful race in tomorrow.”
Third team rider Josh Waters supported Tsuda and De Puniet from the sidelines. The Tyco Suzuki British Superbike Championship rider said: “I think our team has made great steps from yesterday. It is going to be a very tough race tomorrow against some strong teams and in very hot race conditions, but I am sure that we will put-on our best performance possible.”
At an event where Yoshimura is celebrating its 60th Anniversary and with Suzuki Motor Corporation having a strong presence to support both their factory-riders and others teams, the #12 Legend of Yoshimura’s Schwantz remains optimistic about tomorrow, after improving his lap-time by more-than a second from yesterday.
He said: “I am very happy with my lap time today; it’s my best lap of the weekend so far. In the morning session, the team did some modifications and tuning and I got a great lap time, although I made some mistakes. I am here to do real competition and ride hard; it’s not just for enjoyment. I really appreciate the hard work and effort everyone in the team has put-in.”
Similarly, team-mate Aoki also went faster than yesterday and posted a lap of 2’09.775.
Team Kagayama’s Aegerter also improved his time, posting a 2’08.483 lap to put them sixth on the grid, although Kagayama could not beat his Friday time after running-wide on a corner and making a few mistakes.
Said Kagayama: “Noriyuki (Haga) and myself are setting-up the bike for the whole team. We’ve tried to make it to suit Dominique’s riding style and he’s riding really well, considering his lack of experience in these types of events. In the Top-10 TriaI I tried to push hard but I made a small mistake at the Spoon corner. I was pretty disappointed, but we are aiming for the Best Privateer prize tomorrow.”
Aegerter said: “For me everything is new; there’s lots of bikes are on the track, the qualifying tyres only last for one lap and it was very difficult for me to use it perfectly, but it wasn’t such a bad lap-time. However, compared to the top times, it’s not good enough. The important thing tomorrow is to do consistent laps in the race. I am very excited and I’m having a great time with two experienced and great riders. I’m learning a lot from Noriyuki and Yukio and I’d like to thank the team for this great opportunity.”
Reigning World Endurance Champions Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) just missed-out on a place in the Top-10 trial, but the 13-time champions – despite missing it’s kingpin rider Vincent Philippe – is optimistic of a good result; and has great experience, knowledge and consistency in Anthony Delhalle, Erwan Nigon and stand-in rider Damian Cudlin.
Said Delhalle: “Compared to the recent Suzuka test, the conditions were very tough yesterday with the heat and high humidity. Qualifying wasn’t so bad for me but the Japanese riders have more experience racing in these conditions and can push harder. We finished 13th but we are confident we can push more and be stronger in the race.”
Said Nigon: “I’m not really satisfied with qualifying time, but the GSX-R is good and we have found the fastest setting’s for the race. The weather conditions are very different to last week, but I’m confident for the race tomorrow. We will push ourselves to the limit.”
Cudlin added: “I am a replacement for Vincent, he is the great rider and it’s very disappointed that he is not here for Suzuki, but it is very good opportunity for me, although I feel a little pressure. I will do my very best and I hope to be a valuable member of the team.”
The 37th edition of the Suzuka 8-Hours – which sees a maximum number of 70 teams on the grid – will get underway at 11.30hrs (GMT +9) with the finish due at 19.30hrs.
The Yoshimura Suzuki Shell ADVANCE team of Takuya Tsuda, Randy de Puniet and Josh Waters will start on pole position at the 37th edition of the Suzuka 8 Hour after Japanese rider Tsuda set a new unofficial lap record of 2’06.703 in today’s Top10 Trial.
Tsuda’s superb lap was 0.391 seconds ahead of his closest rival, Monster Energy Yamaha YSP rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga, while F.C.C. TSR Honda’s Jonathan Rea was third quickest and the only other rider able to lap within one second of the pole-getting time.
The performance of Bridgestone’s tyres was clearly evident at the Suzuka Circuit with eight of the ten teams that qualified for the Top10 Trial using Bridgestone rubber. The Top10 Trial at the Suzuka 8 Hour sees the ten quickest teams from the provisional qualifying session choose two riders, each of which has one flying lap to set a time. By the end of the Top10 Trial, Bridgestone-supported teams filled the top five qualifying positions and despite the track temperature reaching 50°C, there was enough grip available from the Bridgestone tyres for Tsuda to smash the lap record.
Consistent pace is crucial to securing a good result at the Suzuka 8 Hour and as well as proving to be extremely quick over a single lap, excellent tyre durability resulted in Bridgestone-shod teams at the top of the timesheets during race simulations.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department – “It was a very exciting Top10 Trial today and we are very proud to have eight teams represented in the top-ten during qualifying. Congratulations to Tsuda-san and the Yoshimura Suzuki Shell ADVANCE team on their pole position and setting the quickest ever lap time at the Suzuka 8 Hour. All of the teams and riders we are supporting have done very well this weekend, especially considering the very hot and humid conditions. Our tyres are showing excellent performance and I hope that tomorrow we can share in our ninth successive victory at the Suzuka 8 Hour.”
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