Pol Espargaro puts Yamaha Factory on pole
Pol Espargaro was the fastest at this morning’s Top 10 Trial, claiming the Suzuka 8 Hours pole for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team. The factory Yamaha will take top spot on the starting grid, ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance and Team Green. F.C.C. TSR Honda, which placed fourth, is the first Honda.
The Top 10 Trial yielded a great show of diversity and the promise of a wide open and hotly-fought race. A Yamaha, a Suzuki, a Kawasaki and a Honda – in that order – will be starting the race Sunday morning in the four top spots.
Pol Espargaro didn’t beat his own 2015 record (pole position with a 2’06.000 lap), but he did convert Yamaha Factory Racing Team’s provisional pole into the number one slot on the grid at the start of the Suzuka 8 Hours, posting a 2’06.258 lap in the Top 10 Trial. The Superpole – a specificity of the Japanese race – enabled Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance to jump to second place on the grid thanks to a 2’06.405 lap by Takuya Tsuda. Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance were in fifth place after yesterday’s qualifying. Team Green confirmed its earlier performance and took third place on the grid after Leon Haslam completed a 2’06.469 lap.
F.C.C. TSR Honda moved up one place to 4th after Patrick Jacobsen delivered a 2’07.248, making the team the first Honda on the grid, ahead of Musashi RT Harc-Pro. The Top 10 Trial was a letdown for Musashi RT Harc-Pro. Michael van der Mark and Takumi Takahashi were unable to top their best performances in qualifying, which had provisionally won them second place.
Team Kagayama (Suzuki) will start from 6th on the grid ahead of YART Yamaha Official EWC Team, Toho Racing (Honda) and Moto Map Supply (Suzuki).
JP DogFightRacing Australia held on its qualifying 10th place after a lone 2’14.223 lap by Corey Turner following Mark Aitchison’s crash on his run.
The 39th edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours will be flagged off at 11.30am local time (GMT+9) on Sunday.
What they said…
Pol Espargaro, Yamaha Factory Racing Team rider and pole sitter
“I’m very happy with this new pole position. We managed to tweak the settings to get a high-performance bike that suits all three riders. Katsuyuki Nakasuga will be at the start.”
Takuya Tsuda, Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance rider
“We’ve worked hard these past few days to amp up our bike’s performance. The work paid off and enabled us to pick up second place on the grid.”
Noriyuki Haga, Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance rider
“I’m very happy with our result. Even though I made a mistake on the track, I still posted a better lap in the Top 10 Trial than in qualifying.”
Leon Haslam, Team Green rider
“It’s the first time I’ve taken part in the Top 10 Trial and I’m happy I got so close to the best time. Our bike is working well and we’re fast. I’m feeling confident, but it’ll be a very close-fought race.”