Josh Hook 6th in MFJ All Japan Road Race Superbike opener
By Trevor Hedge
The opening round of the 2015 All Japan Superbike Championship was staged at Suzuka last weekend and there were two Australian Honda riders on the 55-strong Superbike category entry list. Josh Hook, who will ride full-time in the 2015 MFJ All Japan Road Race Championship Series for the FCC TSR squad, and Troy Herfoss, making a one-off appearance with the RT Sakurai squad as preparatin for the Suzuka 8 Hour.
Due to such a large Superbike entry list qualifying had to be split in to A and B groups. Topping the timesheets was Suzuki’s Tsuda Takuya with a 2m06.103 ahead of Kawasaki’s Kazuki Watanabe (2m06.181), Honda’s Takahashi Takumi (2m06.494), while Katsuyuki Nakasuga made it four different manufacturers in the top four with a 2m07.043 on the new Yamaha YZF-R1.
Josh Hook qualified tenth with a 2m08.407 and Troy Herfoss 15th with a 2m09.812.
Some rain fell during morning warm-up but eased before the 20-lap, 116km, race got underway on Sunday afternoon.
Tsuda capitalised on his pole position by scoring the holeshot ahead of Watanabe and headed the 44-rider field through turn one.
Watanabe soon took the lead before Tsuda reasserted his position at the front of the field on lap three only for Watanabe to come right back past him at the next turn as Kagayama fell at Degner Curve and went out of the race.
Tsuda went on to eke out a gap over his pursuers, his fastest lap a 2m07.049 at half race distance. Nakasuga did not give up the chase however and pursued his Suzuki foe doggedly but it was to no avail as Tusda went on to take victory over Nakasuga by 2.3-seconds.
Kawasaki’s Kazuki Watanabe rounded out the podium a further 6.4-seconds behind Nakasuga.
The first Honda home was the MuSashi RT entry piloted to fourth place by Takahashi Takumi while Josh Hook finished a highly creditable sixth place on the FCC TSR Fireblade.
The target set for Josh Hook by the FCC TSR Team for this opening round of the series was to be able to set 2m07s lap times around Suzuka. Hook met this target with a 2m07.707 fastest lap of the race. This is the pace he will be expected to set during the Suzuka 8 Hours, which is the real target for Hook and his team this year.
Josh Hook – “We had a great weekend, the result was a lot better then we were expecting, throughout our pre season testing and practice/qualifying at round one we have been averaging around 10th fastest. It’s been difficult to get my head around this high-spec machine and obviously the Bridgestone tyre is a lot better the anything I have ever been on before, so there are quite a few things I have to learn in a short time.
“I have had to change my riding style a little to get the most out of the bike and tyre, but we have been making big improvements and moving forward every session, and I have to thank my team for that, they are trying absolutely everything to achieve the goal and we are both happy with the progress.
“Come the race, I got a really good start up to 5th, but didn’t have the pace in the opening laps. I have been struggling to get the most out of a new tyre, once the grip goes away a little thats when I’m strong.
“Lap four I think I was back in about 9th place, once I got into a good rhythm I started catching the guys in front and was lapping quite a bit faster then them.
“By the last lap (lap 20) I had caught the riders running sixth and seventh. I hung it all out and passed the seventh placed rider into Degner 1, and then the sixth placed rider into the last corner.
“Overall 6th place was a massive achievement for me, considering we haven’t been so strong leading into the race. The team had a target time to break into the 7 second bracket and in the race I did a few 2:07.7. So I am happy with the result.
“Round two is this weekend at AutoPolis, it’s a circuit I don’t know quite as well as Suzuka, but I am looking forward to getting back on the bike and picking up where we left off.”
Troy Herfoss didn’t fare quite as well on the weekend but as for Hook, his focus is Suzuka 8 Hour preparation.
“It was a testing weekend as far as trying to be competitive in that particular race, but our focus is to have a better bike for the 8hr in July. We are definitely moving forward for the 8hr.
“We worked on a long lasting front end problem with the Sakurai bike from previous years. We improved it in other areas but we will be looking for some big improvements next outing.
“Qualifying 15th is never fun but we got the bike down into the 2m09s which was nice. The race really never got going for me. I got away with a good bunch in around 8th and done my best, once the rear grip went, around lap 9 or 10, I began to struggle with our front end chatter, from there we weren’t racing but just surviving.
“In the end I’m not happy with the result because I believe I can fight towards the front. Looking at the big picture, it’s an endurance bike and that’s our focus so I expect to be better at the 8hr.”
1st: Tsuda Takuya – Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance – “Still feel is not know it because but a victory of half swing years of Tsukuba since 1, 2013, I’m glad. Was pushed to not loosen the mind that there is no choice but to go with full force until the end because Watanabe players and Nakasuka players was fast. Until last year, but I was also that it has suffered alone, this year, because Tsujimoto (Satoshi) san who joined as an advisor, communication with the team was also better. You would like to win next week’s race in this vein, but because it does not expect to go so easily, and faces to cycle the fighting spirit “
2nd: Katsuyuki Nakasuga – Yamaha Factory Racing Team – “is mortifying is “not win it because it was aimed at the opening debut win of YZF-R1 with a full model change. However, there was the response that go if me finished because it does not together is still machine. It is was fast is Tsuda players this time. I was came also visible direction of the machine set to run the race, next week, I want to be able to compete and finish the bike. “
3rd: Kazuki Watanabe – TeamGREEN – “But says every time you go up to the “podium, this time It is mortifying to was good of tune from the pre-test. In the race, among which there is a grip of the tires, it was felt that since I’ve Hashire a good pace was not good the machine of state from becoming sauce, there is still not enough part. This year, the third year, consider the positive is that it was on the podium in the very first race since become really is important season. In more finish the bike, and the run is also high from the first day of the level next week, I want to win what Autopolis “
- Tsuda Takuya Suzuki GSX-R1000 Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance Twenty 42’32.065 164.22km / h 2’07.049
- Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha YZF-R1 YAMAHA FACTORY RACING TEAM Twenty 42’34.381 2.316 2.316 2’07.109
- Kazuki Watanabe Kawasaki ZX-10R TeamGREEN Twenty 42’40.785 8.720 6.404 2’07.201
- Takahashi Takumi Honda CBR1000RR MuSASHi RT Hulk Pro Twenty 42’43.860 11.795 3.075 2’07.246
- Nohidarine Ko汰 Yamaha YZF-R1 YAMALUBE RACING TEAM Twenty 42’53.153 21.088 9.293 2’07.525
- Josh Hook Honda CBR1000RR FCCTSR Honda Twenty 42’55.798 23.733 2.645 2’07.707
- Tatsuya Yamaguchi Honda CBR1000RR TOHORacingwithMORIWAKI Twenty 42’56.140 24.075 0.342 2’07.472
- Nakatomi Shinichi Yamaha YZF-R1 HiTMAN RC Koshien Yamaha Twenty 42’56.753 24.688 0.613 2’07.693
- Akira Yanagawa Kawasaki ZX-10R TeamGREEN Twenty 42’57.580 25.515 0.827 2’07.786
- Ura this OsamuTakashi Honda CBR1000RR MuSASHi RT Hulk Pro Twenty 43’16.853 44.788 19.273 2’08.743
- Kousuke Akiyoshi Honda CBR1000RR au & tellurium · Kohara RT Twenty 43’40.573 1’08.508 23.720 2’09.833
- Konno YukariHiroshi Suzuki GSX-R1000 MotoMap SUPPLY Twenty 43’43.147 1’11.082 2.574 2’10.119
- Raw form Hideyuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 S-Pulse · MFD Racing Twenty 43’47.329 1’15.264 4.182 2’09.565
- Watanabe Kazuma Honda CBR1000RR au & tellurium · Kohara RT Twenty 43’47.848 1’15.783 0.519 2’10.464
- Sakai epic BMW S1000RR CONFIA Flex Motorrad 39 Twenty 43’50.945 1’18.880 3.097 2’10.467
- Teramoto Koji BMWS1000RR Team Tras 135HP Twenty 43’59.634 1’27.569 8.689 2’10.632
- Troy Herfoss Honda CBR1000RR Honda DREAM RT Sakurai Honda Twenty 43’59.771 1’27.706 0.137 2’09.995
- Kojima Kazuhiro Honda CBR1000RR Honda Kumamoto Racing Twenty 44’00.318 1’28.253 0.547 2’10.973
- Takahashi English Lun Kawasaki ZX-10R Sakura project & MF Twenty 44’10.373 1’38.308 10.055 2’11.538
- Yoshida Mitsuhiro Honda CBR1000RR Honda Kumamoto Racing Twenty 44’10.584 1’38.519 0.211 2’11.490
- Kodama Yuta BMWS1000RR Team Tras 135HP Twenty 44’32.646 2’00.581 22.062 2’12.332
- Shimizu Yuumi Honda CBR1000RR Honda Dream Takasaki B’WISE RT center Maebashi 19 42’35.669 1Lap 1Lap 2’13.414
- Kuboyama Masao Honda CBR1000RR Honda Hamamatsu Association Hamamatsu escargot 19 42’37.320 1Lap 1.651 2’13.036
- Whereabouts Chimoto Suzuki GSX-R1000 TOPS LIFE f / SBS KIDANI 19 42’38.508 1Lap 1.188 2’13.661
- Nakatsuhara Naohiro Honda CBR1000RR Auto technique sport PGR 19 42’42.421 1Lap 3.913 2’13.212
- TakashiOsamu BMWS1000RR CONFIA Flex Motorrad 39 19 42’45.996 1Lap 3.575 2’13.528
- Nishinaka rope Honda CBR1000RR HondaDREAM RT Wakayama 19 42’54.820 1Lap 8.824 2’14.531
- Ouchida real Honda CBR1000RR Autech Suzuka + RG Niwa 19 42’55.203 1Lap 0.383 2’14.131
- Imazu Hiroshi Kawasaki ZX-10R Plus One MCRT & TOM FLYBOARD JAPAN 19 43’05.739 1Lap 10.536 2’14.626
- Sawamura MotoAkira Yamaha YZF-R1 Iwata Racing Family 19 43’18.357 1Lap 12.618 2’15.298
- Yoshida Kazunori Yamaha YZF-R1 icu racing team & Motokizzu 19 43’24.122 1Lap 5.765 2’15.039
- Tsujimoto Noriyuki BMWS1000RR VITAL SPIRIT SHARK & SAKURA 19 43’50.421 1Lap 26.299 2’15.496
- Shiobara Hiroshi Suzuki GSX-R1000 S.SUPPLY & father set 19 44’22.075 1Lap 31.654 2’17.336
- YoshiMichi Tatsuya Honda CBR1000RR CLEANING JOYFUL 19 44’39.312 1Lap 17.237 2’17.887
- Iwatani Keita Suzuki GSX-R1000 Y’s distraction DOG HOUSE Eighteen 44’38.844 2Laps 1Lap 2’13.801
Best time in the race № 12 Tsuda Takuya Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance 2’07.049 10/20 164.94km / h