Yamaha Factory already ahead
Yamaha Factory Racing Team has taken control right from first qualifying at the Suzuka 8 Hours, placing ahead of Kawasaki Team Green and Red Bull Honda with Japan Post on the provisional starting grid.
The tension has gone up a notch at Suzuka. Several minor crashes and a series of interruptions disrupted the first qualifying session of the Suzuka 8 Hours. Following three straight wins, Yamaha Factory Racing Team is steaming ahead towards its goal of a fourth victory. The average lap time of its three riders (2:06.967) took Yamaha Factory Racing Team to top spot on the provisional grid, ahead of Kawasaki Team Green (2:07.096). However, Jonathan Rea set the fastest individual lap of the entire session. The FIM Superbike triple champion posted a 2:06.371 for Kawasaki Team Green.
HRC squad Red Bull Honda with Japan Post took 3rd place on the provisional grid, ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing, Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda and au.Teluru MotoUP Racing Team.
YART Yamaha, in 8th place, was the quickest of the FIM EWC full-season entries ahead of F.C.C. TSR Honda France, who came in 10th with GMT94 Yamaha right behind. The duel between the latter two teams is an all-important one: the 2017-2018 FIM EWC title is at stake. For now, the championship’s provisional standings leader F.C.C. TSR Honda France has kept the upper hand.
The other FIM EWC permanent teams put in a creditable performance compared to the Japanese teams, with a focus on fine-tuning their race setups rather than a spot on the grid. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team proved 15th-quickest and Honda Endurance Racing 17th, ahead of NRT48. Mercury Racing and Bolliger Team Switzerland placed 30th and 31st respectively. Motobox Kremer Racing was 38th while Suzuka debutant Wojcik Racing Team was 50th of the 64 entries.
The second qualifying session takes place this afternoon. The 10 fastest teams in qualifying will be asked to throw their hats back into the ring at the Top 10 Trial on Saturday afternoon. During this Superpole, a feature unique to the Suzuka 8 Hours, teams choose two of their riders to individually run a flying lap. The results will re-arrange the provisional order in which riders line up on the grid’s top 10 spots.
The 41st Suzuka 8 Hours will be flagged off at 11.30am local time (GMT+9) this Sunday, with a night-time finish scheduled for 7.30pm.