TEAM GREEN SETS FASTEST QUALIFYING TIME
After the qualifying sessions of the prestigious endurance race Suzuka 8 Hours – round two of the FIM EWC (Endurance World Championship), it was Team Green’s Kawasaki that clocked the fastest time. The times on the grid sheet are all extremely close: proof of a top-notch line-up, composed of permanent teams as well as MotoGP riders who have joined the race to test their mettle against the masters of endurance.
A thrilling show unfolded on the track throughout the qualifying sessions. No fewer than 84 teams entered for the race, and were split up into several groups so each one could capitalize on the talents of its riders and the quality of its machines. The top teams kept fine-tuning from start to finish, and there were several falls – proof that every single rider was going all out to set the best time.
The major event of the day was Team Green’s factory Kawasaki setting the fastest time in 2.06.656, with Japanese riders Akira Yanagawa and Kazuki Watanabe and the Indonesian Ahmad Yudhistira in the saddle. This is the first time in 20 years that Kawasaki has posted the best overall time at Suzuka! The brand had returned to the 8 Hours last year after a lengthy absence.
Despite topping most of the qualifying sessions, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team will have to make with third place on the starting grid. Featuring Katsuyuki Nakasuga and MotoGP riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro, the team proved highly effective, even though the Spanish rider took a minor fall.
The factory Yamaha had a dogged rival in the shape of the Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance bike featuring Takuya Tsuda, Alex Lowes and Josh Waters. They finished in second place overall. F.C.C. TSR Honda and its MotoGP rider Dominique Aegerter clocked almost same times, as did the Honda Musashi RT Harc-Pro of MotoGP rider Casey Stoner, who posted a time of 2.06.963 during his second session.
Placing 11th, Monster Energy Yamaha YART was the best of the permanent teams at the end of this day of qualifying, ahead of BMW Motorrad France Team Penz13.com, which placed 14th. Yamaha GMT 94 Racing, Team SRC Kawasaki, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, Honda Racing and Team Bolliger Switzerland were bunched together between 16th and 21st place on the grid.
Tomorrow, on Saturday, the Superpole – specific to the Suzuka 8 Hours – will take place. Two riders from each of the ten best teams go back on track to jockey for the best possible position on the starting grid by making their individual fastest lap times.
Only 70 riders, including all the permanent teams competing in the FIM EWC, can take part in the Suzuka 8 Hours, which begins on Sunday at 11.30am.