Pole for HRC for home EWC Suzuka 8 Hours
A delayed and revised Top 10 Trial for pole position for the third round of the FIM Endurance World Championship saw Tetsuta Nagashima post a 2m04.934 to take pole position on the #33 Team HRC CBR1000RR-RSP for tomorrow’s 43rd running of the Coca-Cola Suzua 8 Hours whilst YART lead the way for the EWC season-contenders.
After mixed conditions affected running so far at Suzuka the single pole lap format was revised for an open 40-minute session for the two nominated riders from each team.
For Team HRC, it was Nagashima first to push the Bridgestones, with the pole lap set on his first flying lap, which would prove to be unbeatable for the rest of the session.
“So I’m really happy to that we have achieved the pole position,” said Nagashima. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the top 10 trial today. But anyway, we’re going to do it’s very good to start from the pole opposition. So tomorrow we’re going to do a great job.
Next fastest was another Suzuka-only effort with the #10 Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8H ZX-10R and Jonathan Rea making amends for his FP2 off to set a 2m05.149s late on in the session.
“I was very happy with the lap time,” said Rea. “I got caught out a little bit this morning with the Bridgestone tyre as it’s the first time I’ve ever used their soft tyre. We’ve been working with the race tyre and I underestimated how much grip the soft has in change of direction.
“I really support the race directors when they changed the Top 10 Trial format because so many riders hadn’t completed one chrono lap, so for me to go into super pole and set one lap would have been very strange. So, instead we had 40 minutes to make the lap time and step by step I understood this soft tyre and you know the lap time was quite good, I made a few mistakes but really happy with second place.
“Congratulations to Tetsuto as it’s an incredible lap time. My team-mates have been doing a really good job this week and we’ve got a great starting position.”
Leading the charge for the EWC season contenders, it was the #7 YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC with all three riders going out in the session as allowed by the revised format, and all three posting times in the 2m05s.
It was Karel Hanika last to post his fast time and his was the fastest too, with a 2m05.769s from Marvin Fritz on a 2m05.776s and Niccolò Canape with a 2m05.981s, illustrating just how well matched the YART riders are.
“I’m pretty happy to sit here next to these guys so congratulations to Honda and Kawasaki,” said Hanika. “First of all, I should not have been running today as I had a pretty nasty crash yesterday so the Top 10 Trial should have been for my team-mates. To stand here today with the fastest lap on the Yamaha is pretty good, but the most important is that all of us are fast.
“Coming to this race we knew that we were lacking a bit of pace in the testing compared to these guys, so that is what we were working on this week. We can feel the improvements in the dry conditions and even in the wet. Probably we need to improve in the mix conditions, but hopefully we can be good tomorrow.”
Second quickest of the regulars was the #5 FCC TSR CBR1000RR-R Fireblade with Josh Hook posting a 2m06.204s, whilst the #37 BMW MOTORRAD WORLD ENDURANCE TEAM M1000RR qualified 9th with Markus Reiterberger setting a 2m06.897s.