Rain makes an appearance at Suzuka
The third and final day of the Suzuka 8 Hours tests took place in the wet. The rain did not however deter Red Bull Honda, who once again set the fastest time in Thursday’s sessions.
As on the two previous days of tests on a dry track, Takumi Takahashi and Stefan Bradl took Red Bull Honda to the top of the timesheets despite the rainy weather in Suzuka. They will be on the starting grid together with Ryuichi Kiyonari, who was unable to take part because he is in Laguna Seca for the American round of the FIM Superbike championship.
The Japanese factory team cut a dash during the three-day tests, impressing their rivals by setting the fastest lap – a 2:05.939 – right from Day 1.
Yamaha Factory Racing Team, who have won the last four editions of the Suzuka 8 Hours, posted a 2:06.213 with Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane in the absence of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, also on the track at Laguna Seca. The Yamaha team were closely followed by another competitive and ambitious team, Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda (Ryo Mizuno, Xavi Fores and Dominique Aegerter).
F.C.C. TSR Honda France targeting podium
F.C.C. TSR Honda France made their ambitions abundantly clear in both the wet and the dry. Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike Di Meglio’s mission is to finish on the podium to try to retain their FIM EWC title. The Honda #1 was quicker than Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing and YART Yamaha during the tests in Japan.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, another contender for the 2019-2020 FIM EWC title, also used the tests to prepare for the Suzuka 8 Hours grand finale, which will determine who takes the world champion crown.
Kawasaki is unknown quantity
Two key players did not take part in the tests. Kawasaki Racing Team, the new Kawasakai factory team, will be riding to win in Japan with Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu, three World Superbike front-runners currently racing at Laguna Seca.
Another keenly-awaited team on the Suzuka track on 24 July are Team SRC Kawasaki France (Jérémy Guarnoni, David Checa and Erwan Nigon), who currently top the championship standings with a mere 5-point lead over Suzuki Endurance Racing Team.
Top 6 of the Suzuka 8 Hours tests
Red Bull Honda – 2:05.939
Yamaha Factory Racing Team – 2:06.213
Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda – 2:06.276
F.C.C. TSR Honda France – 2:06.789
Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing – 2:07.495
YART Yamaha – 2:07.709
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – 2:08.607