Red Bull Honda consistently quickest during testing
HRC’s Japanese squad of Takumi Takahashi, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Stefan Bradl dominated testing at Suzuka this week. Red Bull Honda, as the team is referred to, topped all three days of testing. The fastest overall time of the test was set on day one by Red Bull Honda at 2m05.939, which they then backed up on day two with 2m06.139s before then topping the very wet final day of testing also.
Takumi Takahashi is in hot form after just scoring four consecutive wins in the All Japan Road Race Championship (JRR) JSB1000 class and was the quickest rider during this week’s test.
The Yamaha Factory Racing Team of Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Alex Lowes and Michael Van der Mark were consistently the second quickest team ahead of two more Honda teams.
“Our setup is solid for the dry, but I wanted to have a chance to ride in the wet as well, so today was very important for us. Of course I’d rather the entire race be dry, though. This test has been productive and has given us a lot in preparation for the race. Next up is the race weekend, so I’m looking forward to getting together both of my teammates, and I want us to work together to get the best result we can.”
The reining World Endurance Championship trio of young Aussie Josh Hook and his French team-mates Freddy Foray and Mike Di Meglio were third quickest on day one but were pipped out of that third spot on day two by MuSashi RT Harc-Pro.
Yoshimura Suzuki were fifth quickest ahead of the YART Yamaha World Endurance squad of Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Niccolo Canepa.
“Today we only rode in the morning session. Both for me and my teammates, we all had lap times that were plenty fast. I’ve ridden on Bridgestones in the wet at Suzuka several times before and I know how well they work here, so our fast times were to be expected. For this test, we were consistently quick, and all things considered it was a great three days. But for us, going up against teams with factory bikes, including F.C.C. TSR Honda, with our EWC-spec R1, I know it will be a big challenge. But you never know what can happen in endurance racing. That’s why we have to give it our all and never give up.”
Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli, Suzuki’s MotoGP test rider, partners two Japanese riders, Kasuki Watanabe and veteran Yukio Kagayama in the Yoshimura Suzuki squad.
Troy Herfoss had a late call-up to join KYB Moriwaki Racing for Suzuka and the Australian Superbike Champion tested with the squad this week where the team recorded a best of 2m09.275s.
Josh Waters will contest Suzuka as part of the MotoMap SWAT Suzuki squad alongside his good friend Nobuatsu Aoki and British rider Dan Linfoot. They recorded a best of 2m09.940s during this week’s test.
Testing form bodes well for Honda to extend their record as the most successful manufacturer at the Suzuka 8 Hour. In fact, Honda have 27 wins to their name, well ahead of next best Yamaha on eight victories. Suzuki have five wins while Kawasaki has only ever won the prestigious event once, and that was more than 25 years ago when Aaron Slight and Scott Russell piloted a ZXR750R to victory.
Kawasaki have shown form in recent years though with Jonathan Rea setting a 2m05.168s lap record during qualifying for the event last year. The primary strike force for the Kawasaki Racing Team for Suzuka 2019 sees Rea joined by Leon Haslam and young Turk Toprak Razgatlioglu. That trio were otherwise engaged preparing for the Laguna Seca round of the World Superbike Championship this weekend. They are certainly race fit though and there is no question that they have the speed to challenge for Suzuka 8H glory.
The next time we will get to see the true form guide shake out ahead of the July 28th event is on Thursday, July 24th.
The 42nd edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours is also the FIM EWC season finale. Heading to Suzuka SRC Kawasaki currently lead the championship by five-points over SERT while F.C.C. TSR Honda is third a further 18-points adrift. SRC Kawasaki France did not take part in this week’s testing. The FIM EWC season finale sees participants score 150 per cent of the regular points, with 45-points awarded to the winner of the Suzuka 8 Hours.
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