As temperatures rose at the Suzuka International Circuit in Japan today, the Yoshimura and Kagayama Suzuki teams upped their pace to finish well-in the top-10 ready for tomorrow’s all-important qualifying sessions for the 39th Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8-Hour World Endurance Championship third round on Sunday.
Following initial practice sessions yesterday, Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance (third in Thursday’s free practice) put-in the fifth-fastest time today with a combined time of 2’08.248 aboard their GSX-R1000 with riders Takuya Tsuda, Josh Brookes and Noriyuki Haga.
Eighth overall is Team KAGAYAMA SUZUKI riders Yukio Kagayama, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Naomichi Uramoto (2’08.474); and ninth on the timesheets, Moto Map SUPPLY’s Josh Waters, former Suzuki MotoGP rider Nobuatsu Aoki and Yoshihiro Konno (2’09.227).
Defending Endurance World Champions, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, (SERT) currently sits 17th with a time of 2’09.928, but are looking for more in tomorrow’s final sessions.
“I rode slower than I thought because the condition is considerably different from a test. Still, the average of three of us is high, and putting all this together, I think it is far from a bad position. I’m looking forward to the final, and I would like to ride well in the Top-10 Trial tomorrow.”
“I had some trouble with the conditions that were considerably-different from a test. But I think that the balance of the whole machine is good, but it is not able to give the performance with the tyre for the road-surface condition well. However, I understand the solution to it, so I think it is not a big problem: It keeps me on my toes because the Suzuka 8-Hours is a long stretch and I have to focus on the final qualifying, but I still have no image of the race at all.”
“I think I will be able to perform well in the race, because my team has the solution to some issues I have at the moment, but no big deal. Maybe, Takuya and Nori will ride in the Top-10 Trial tomorrow, so I would like to concentrate and focus on the race.”
“I checked the machine that is for Suzuka 8-Hour, choose tyres yesterday, and everything is going well. There is a limit of tyres, so our team made the direction with management that we make Kiyonari’s feeling: I’m grateful for his work. He understands my ideas and helps my challenge that a young rider like Uramoto is growing and improving here. I am very happy and enjoying the race week with the good atmosphere in our team.”
“We are improving our machine all the time, but to be honest, I am surprised with the other team’s time scores. Our team’s work-flow is right and going well, I think. Anyway, I have to do what I can, so I will more focus on working hard.”
“The feeling of the first outing was good, but I slipped-off, but then I got a better feeling and I could ride with the good rhythm in this morning’s free practice. The qualifiers were both with the used tyres, but I just want to do my best for our team.”
“There was a limit of tyres, so Josh and I planned to attack and that was going well. Nobuatsu Aoki gave us some good advice and it enabled us to put it together early, which led to a good result.”
“This team has the job of tyre development and testing in a real race environment, so there are some difficult tasks…but, the potential is improving: It seems that we will show it and this will be proof of our job. Our Suzuki machine is good and we are positive about the race.”
“The conditions were different from the test, and the slow machines caused a traffic jam in many places. But the performance of the Suzuki is good, and I was able to attack with confidence. I enjoy the race because my team-mates are the best, and the atmosphere of the team is good. I hope to give a good performance in the Top-10 Trial tomorrow.”
“I was disappointed at today’s session a little because I couldn’t get clear laps with the traffic jam on the course. The tyre grip is also not good. But, we are the Champion team and our GSX-R1000 Suzuki is good. We must get as many points as possible and, of course, we aim at a winner’s platform.”
“Today I was able to raise confidence, but because I crashed by a slight mistake, I lost a bit, but I got my confidence back. I ran with a race tyre 1n the second session and I have got a good feeling for the race now.”
“The track conditions are different from the test, so I was perplexed. There are lots of bikes on the course. It troubles me a little and I need more time riding, so I would like to spend more time tomorrow doing this before the race.”
Friday Overall Combined Qualifying: 1 Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Yamaha) 2’06.908, 2 Musashi RT Harc-Pro (Honda) 2’07.026, 3 Team Green (Kawasaki) 2’07.563, 4 YART (Yamaha) 2’08.239, 5 Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance – Tsuda, Brookes, Haga – (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 2’08.248, 6 FCC TSR Honda (Honda) 2’08.403, 7 TOHO Racing (Honda) 2’08.426, 8 Team KAGAYAMA – Kagayama, Uramoto, Kiyonari – (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 2’08.474, 9 Moto Map SUPPLY – Waters, Aoki, Konno – (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 2’09.227, 10 Team JP Dogfighting Australia (Yamaha) 2’09.269. 17 SERT – Philippe, Delhalle, Masson – (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 2’09.928.