Yamaha Factory take back control
Yamaha Factory Racing Team stepped up the pace to top the times in the third and final session of private tests, ahead of F.C.C. TSR Honda France and Red Bull Honda.
Lap times are getting faster in the run-up to qualifying.
Yamaha Factory Racing Team took over control of events at Suzuka today as the only team to post a lap under 2:06. The factory Yamaha team, who have scored back-to-back race wins in the past four years, wrapped up the third session of unofficial tests with a 2:06.798 lap by Katsuyuki Nakasuga. The Japanese rider is partnering Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark for the third year in a row.
F.C.C. TSR Honda France continued to improve their lap time with a 2:07.178. Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike Di Meglio looked to be very strong candidates for the podium, proving quicker than Red Bull Honda’s Takumi Takahashi, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Stefan Bradl, who posted a 2:07.230 lap. YART Yamaha (Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Niccolò Canepa) reiterated a 4th-fastest lap (a 2:07.233) ahead of Leon Haslam, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea for Kawasaki Racing Team (2:07.827).
VRD Igol Pierret Expériences pulled off another astonishing feat, taking 8th place behind Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda and Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing. VRD Igol Pierret Expériences are making their Suzuka debut with riders Florian Alt, Florian Marino and Xavier Siméon.
The two teams leading the provisional championship standings kept up their progress. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team posted the day’s 10th-fastest lap (a 2:09.518) despite a minor crash involving Gregg Black. Team SRC Kawasaki France were 15th with a time of 2:10.099.
The quicker lap times came at the price of a couple of crashes. Yesterday (Wednesday), Bram Lambrechts, the stand-in for Brandon Cretu on the Monaco-based team GSM Racing’s Suzuki, had to withdraw after sustaining a broken collarbone. During the 3rd session of private tests today, Christoffer Bergman crashed spectacularly. He got away unharmed, but one of the Yamaha-mounted Wocjcik Racing Team’s bikes is a write-off.
A final test session is slated for Friday morning at Suzuka – official free practice from 8.30am to 10.30am local time – before qualifying gets underway.
Saturday will be given over to the Top 10 Trial, the Superpole unique to the Suzuka 8 Hours, where the top 10 places on the grid are redistributed on the basis of the best performances on a flying lap.
The 42nd edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours will be flagged off at 11.30am local time on Sunday 28 July.