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Yamaha Factory Racing Deliver Second Consecutive Pole in Suzuka 8 Hours Top Ten Shoot Out

Yamaha Suzuki 8 Hours_073016

The Yamaha Factory Racing Team were back on track today, successfully defending their provisional pole position result from yesterday with an unbeatable lap in the Top Ten Trial shoot out. The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team also continued their impressive top ten performance level to secure seventh on the grid for Sunday’s 2016 Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race.

The legendary Suzuka 8 Hours Top Ten Trial sees the first two riders from the ten fastest teams in yesterday’s qualifying take one hot lap each to decide the first ten starting positions for tomorrow’s race. Having smashed the lap record last year with a stunning 2’06.000s lap for pole, MotoGP rider Pol Espargaró was keen to break under the 2’06s mark. With a 2’06.405s lap to beat, The Spanish rider delivered an almost perfect attack, firing out a 2’06.258s lap to secure pole for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team. Higher track temperatures and less grip meant a new pole record was out of reach, but didn’t prevent Espargaró from claiming the fastest time of the day.

Teammate and number one rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga was the last man of the trial to make his run. With all eyes on him and pole already secured, there was only his fellow Yamaha rider Espargaró to beat. Having shared similar pace all weekend, the shoot out proved to be a close call with Nakasuga laying down a 2’06.435s lap, less than two hundredths of a second from his teammate’s pole time.

Third rider Alex Lowes was on-track in the morning practice with Nakasuga and Espargaró, the trio again keeping the pace at the sharp end as the only team to dip under the 2’08s mark with a best lap of 2’07.877s. The result from today’s Top Ten Trial means The Yamaha Factory Racing Team will start the 39th edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours at the front of the pack for the second year running.

Having secured fourth overall in provisional qualifying Broc Parkes and Kohta Nozane were up to represent the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team in today’s Top Ten Trial. Nazone was the first out, the young Japanese rider still getting to grips with the change from Bridgestone to Pirelli tyres. Despite the pressure he was able to deliver one of his strongest laps of the weekend so far, recording a 2’10.636s time. Then it was down to Parkes to see how far up the rankings he could place the team. The Australian delivered a trademark smooth, fast lap, with no errors, to put the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team in seventh position for tomorrow’s race with a lap time of 2’08.602s.

GMT94 Yamaha’s starting position had already been confirmed in yesterday’s qualifying, having taken 12th in the heats to secure their place just outside the top ten. Riders David Checa, Niccolò Canepa and Lucas Mahias continued their work this morning in the hunt for the best set up ahead of tomorrow’s race, wrapping up the morning practice in 11th with a 2’10.418s best lap time.

Wataru Yoshikawa – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager

“We were able to take pole position for the second time in a row so this is great for us. However, during the free practice session beforehand, the safety car entered the track and it threw off the rhythm Nakasuga and Pol had built up. On top of that, both of them set incredible times in the Top 10 Trial last year so I think the expectations on their shoulders may have grown a little too big. Tomorrow is finally the real thing, and we’ll believe in all the hard work we’ve done until now as we head into the race. We’re ready to go and feeling great.”

Katsuyuki Nakasuga – Yamaha Factory Racing Team
2’06.435

“We haven’t changed any settings during the week, everything has been really good and the average speed has been high. We are very satisfied with the progress we’ve been making and tomorrow I think we are going to do a great job. I wanted to beat Pol’s lap time this afternoon but I was unable to! I realised when he was doing his lap that today the conditions were harder and it would probably be hard to do a better one, but he did his best and I am very happy for him. I was the last one to go out for a lap time and I felt a lot of pressure and was a little nervous. I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to but we secured pole position, which is very important for us for the start of the race. I’m not totally satisfied with my lap but overall I’m happy for all of us.”

Pol Espargaró – Yamaha Factory Racing Team
2’06.258

“I’m actually really happy with the pole position, especially because during the weekend the speed of all three of us has been really consistent with good pace. We haven’t changed the bike so much, only something really small with the electronics. Our riding styles are different but in the end we can use the same motorbike, which is really important for the race. I’m happy with the pole lap, I wanted to improve on last year’s time but I felt the track today was a bit more slippery and I didn’t have a great T1. It’s important for all three of us for tomorrow’s start to be at the front. My helmet was special for the shoot out, it has my brother’s number on it, it’s a kind of dedication for him as it’s his 27th birthday today.”

Alex Lowes – Yamaha Factory Racing Team

“Of course I’m really happy for the team to be on pole position. It’s a strange position having done nothing myself yet to be on pole but anyway I’m really happy. What’s most important is the race tomorrow, we had a really good day yesterday in the practices; we were all quite fast and consistent so this will be important for tomorrow. I’m really happy to be here with the Yamaha Factory Racing Team. It’s such a fantastic team and we three guys have a really good relationship. It’s very important for a race like this where you have to work together and have fun. I’m looking forward to the race, let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Mandy Kainz – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager

“We are very satisfied with seventh position in qualifying, this was the maximum we could do, more was not possible so we are really very happy with it. All is under control, we are ready to start tomorrow and see what we can do in the race.”

Broc Parkes – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team
2’08.602

“Qualifying went pretty well today. I had to put a good lap down because I knew my time was going to be where we were on the grid. It wasn’t a bad lap, it wasn’t on the edge at all, I just tried to put the best one down I could and keep it smooth. It was a little bit warmer today so it was a little bit more difficult to put a lap down confidently but in general seventh on the grid is a good place to be for tomorrow and I think we can fight from there. The plan is to get a good start and try and go with the top guys and see how long I can hang in there and see what happens.”

Kouta Nozane – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team
2’10.636

“Today was my first-ever Top 10 Trial, so I was really nervous, but I recorded my personal-best time so far with a lap in the 2’10s. It was an all-out lap on new tyres and with the bike setup closer to the sprint spec I normally use, but I still wasn’t able to break into the 2’09s so I’m pretty disappointed. But riding in the Top 10 Trial helped me understand the bike a lot more than I had before. We’ll work together and do our best to fight in the race tomorrow.”

Takuya Fujita – YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“I didn’t end up riding in the Top 10 Trial today, but that’s all down to the team’s strategy. Both the bike and the three of us riders are in good shape at this point. So in tomorrow’s race, I’ll give my all to do my part for the team. And if there’s a chance for us to break into the top positions, we’ll go for it.”

Christophe Guyot – GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager

“We tried new settings in this morning’s official practice and also in yesterday’s qualifying but neither was as good as the setting we started with in the first two hour practice yesterday morning so we will revert to that. We are very happy because we tried many things and we now have an understanding of the Dunlop tyres and the bike is working well so we have a solution for the race. Of course we could be better if we had more time but it’s not possible as the race is tomorrow. The guys are ready, David and Niccolò are very strong and Lucas is proving to be a great rider although he still needs more laps here to understand the circuit fully.”

David Checa – GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team

“I really like this circuit, the experience is unbelievable here, the track is probably one of the best in the world for a rider. The welcome in Japan from Yamaha and the Japanese people is always so special. I would like to return to the podium here like we did three years ago. Last year we were sixth but battling for the podium during the race. We intend to be in the top five and maybe we can play for the podium tomorrow.”

Results

1,Yamaha Factory Racing Team,Yamaha,2’06.258
2,Yoshimura Suzuki Shell ADVANCE,Suzuki,2’06.405
3,Team GREEN,Kawasaki,2’06.469
4,F.C.C. TSR Honda,Honda,2’07.248
5,MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO.,Honda,2’07.394
6,Team KAGAYAMA,Suzuki,2’07.651
7,YART Yamaha Official EWC Team,Yamaha,2’08.602
8,TOHO Racing,Honda,2’08.716
9,Moto Map SUPPLY,Suzuki,2’09.774
10,TEAMJP DOGFIGHTRACING AUSTRALIA,Yamaha,2’14.223