Suzuka 8 Hours: Yamaha scores third straight pole

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Suzuka 8 Hours: Yamaha scores third straight pole
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Yamaha Factory Racing secured its third successive pole at Suzuka 8 Hours after two-time race winner Katsuyuki Nakasuga set the fastest time in Saturday’s Top 10 Trials shootout.

#11 Kawasaki Team Green: Kazuma Watanabe, Leon Haslam, Azlan Shah Bin Kamaruzaman
#11 Kawasaki Team Green: Kazuma Watanabe, Leon Haslam, Azlan Shah Bin Kamaruzaman
#111 Honda Endurance Racing: Julien Da Costa, Sebastien Gimbert, Freddy Foray
#634 Musashi Rt Harc-Pro. Honda: Takumi Takahashi, Takaaki Nakagami, Jack Miller
#5 F.C.C. Tsr Honda: Josh Hook, Dominique Aegerter, Randy De Puniet
#12 Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing: Takuya Tsuda, Sylvain Guintoli, Josh Brookes
#52 Eko Ivracing BMW Cseu: Karel Hanika, Martin Choy, Ladislav Chmelik
#71 Team Kagayama Suzuki: Yukio Kagayama, Naomichi Uramoto, Hafizh Syahrin

The #19 Moriwaki Honda squad set the initial pace, with Ryuichi Kiyonari clocking a time of 2m08.178s around the Suzuka Circuit. Daijiro Hiura of #25 Honda Suzuka matched his pace 30 minutes into the session before Kiyonari’s teammate Yuki Takahashi went quicker still with 2m08.041s.

The times tumbled when the second group of bikes took to the track, with Randy de Puniet immediately going a second faster with 2m07.156s.

De Puniet’s benchmark was further lowered by Nakasuga, who shares the #21 Yamaha YZR-R1 with Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark. The 33-year-old nearly matched Pol Espargaro’s all-time Suzuka 8 Hours pole record with a laptime of 2m06.038s.

Nakasuga's time remained unchallenged despite several attempts by rivals in the final 30 minutes of the session, ensuring Yamaha maintained its unbeaten record in qualifying since it returned to the endurance classic in 2015.

The #12 Yoshimura Suzuki crew of Sylvain Guintoli, Joshua Brookes and Takuya Tsuda emerged as Yamaha’s closest challenger, with the latter lapping two tenths slower than Nakasuga to qualify second.

Leon Haslam, Kazuma Watanabe and Azlan Shah qualified third on the grid for Kawasaki, which hasn’t won the race since 1993.

Despite having five bikes in top-10 shootout, Honda could best manage a fourth place grid slot with Dominique Aegerter, de Puniet and Stefan Bradl’s replacement Josh Hook in the #5 FCC TSR Honda.

The #634 HARC-Pro line-up of Takumi Takahashi, Takaaki Nakagami and MotoGP star Jack Miller completed the top five. Miller took no part in today’s qualifying session after the Honda team nominated their two Japanese riders for the shootout. 

Qualifying results:

Pos.No.TeamRidersAvg Time
1 21 Yamaha Factory Racing Team

 Alex Lowes

 Katsuyuki Nakasuga

 Michael van der Mark

2m06.038s
2 12 Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing

 Takuya Tsuda

 Josh Brookes

 Sylvain Guintoli

2m06.282s
3 11

Kawasaki Team Green 

 Leon Haslam

 Kazuma Watanabe

 Azlan Shah

2m06.381s
4 5  F.C.C. TSR Honda

 

 Randy de Puniet

 Dominique Aegerter

 Josh Hook

2m06.600s
5 634

Musashi RT HARC-Pro Honda

 Jack Miller

 Takumi Takahashi

 Takaaki Nakagami

2m06.671s
6 7 YART Yamaha

 Broc Parkes

 Marvin Fritz

 Kohta Nozane

2m07.634s
7 19  Moriwaki Motul Racing

 Yuki Takahashi

 Ryuichi Kiyonari

 Dan Linfoot

2m08.041s
8 25

Honda Suzuka Racing Team

 Daijiro Hiura

 Takashi Yasuda

 Yudai Kamei

2m08.178s
9 71

Team Kagayama 

 Yukio Kagayama

 Hafiz Syahrin

 Naomichi Uramoto

2m08.616s
10 22 Honda Team Asia

 Dimas Ekky Pratama

 Ratthapong Wilairot

 Md Zaqhwan Zaidi

2m09.966s

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About this article

Series FIM Endurance
Event Suzuka 8 Hours
Location Suzuka
Author Rachit Thukral