43rd edition Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race

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YART Yamaha Hunting for Suzuka 8 Hours Podium

The Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team heads to the 43rd edition of the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race full of confidence after topping the combined timesheets during the two-day pre-race test in Japan.

Round 3 of the 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship sees the iconic Suzuka circuit make a long-awaited return to the calendar for the first time since 2019 due to the global health pandemic. Without a factory team at the event in 2022, the Austrian Squad will spearhead the Yamaha attack in Japan, and riders Karel Hanika, Niccolò Canepa, and Marvin Fritz enjoyed the perfect start to race week by ending the official two-day test on top by setting the fastest lap time, a 2:06.864. This followed on from an already impressive outing in cooler conditions at the previous official test at the circuit in July, where the team finished third fastest with a 2:06.662.

So far, the 2022 season has given a great example of the highs and lows experienced in endurance racing. A podium at the season’s opening round in Le Mans was followed by heartbreak at the SPA 24H EWC Motos as the team mounted an incredible fightback during the race in Belgium after an electronics problem at the start, only to be denied victory by a technical issue after 18 hours.

The outright pace of the team is undeniable as they have a 100% pole position record so far in 2022, and despite their DNF in Belgium, they are currently third in the overall championship standings, 30 points behind the leaders. At Suzuka, five points are available during qualifying, and another 30 are up for grabs during the race, so with two rounds still to go this season, it is all still to fight for.

The YART Yamaha team’s best result at Suzuka is a fourth-place finish in 2009, the year they became FIM Endurance World Champions. They hope to back up their testing pace by securing their first podium at the legendary endurance race to get their 2022 title aspirations back on track. Not only were the team quick over one lap at the test, but they also had a chance to dial in their settings with the YART Yamaha R1 and the Bridgestone tyres as they focused on their race pace, and the riders feel confident they can fight at the front with their factory rivals come Sunday.

The historic 5.821km Suzuka circuit presents a unique challenge to teams and riders, with a figure-of-eight layout, 17 corners and a mixture of fast, flowing sections along with slower, technical segments. Adding to the challenging nature of the track, forecasted temperatures of over 30 degrees Celsius, extreme humidity and the chance of rain mean nothing is predictable, showcasing why the Suzuka 8 Hours race is one of the toughest tests for bike and rider on the endurance calendar.

The track action gets underway on Friday with Free Practice, Qualifying and Night Practice. The ten fastest teams then participate in the Top Ten Trial on Saturday to decide the grid before the 8-hour race kicks off on Sunday at 11:30 am local time (GMT+9).

Karel Hanika
Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team
“We are happy with the result of the test. The team did a great job, and my teammates were really fast. We focused on our race pace during the test, and despite the hot temperatures, we managed to improve compared to the test one month ago. We still have some work to do in Free Practice on the electronics and to finalise our tyre selections, but we feel very confident heading into the race weekend that we can battle at the front, and we can’t wait to start the action in earnest on Friday.”

Niccolò Canepa
Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team
“We are delighted with these two days of testing, as we did not expect to finish on top of the timesheets. I think the best thing is that we all improved our race pace from the test in July, which was our aim during this test. We have an excellent feeling with the R1 and the Bridgestone tyres, so we are looking forward to the race. Of course, it will not be easy, as the factory teams will be very strong, but we have prepared in the best way possible and are now looking forward to the race.”

Marvin Fritz
Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team
“We had two perfect days of testing, and we improved each session our feeling with the R1! We worked a lot on the electronics and tested some new tyre compounds from Bridgestone, and I think we have a very good package now heading into the race weekend. I was impressed with how consistent we were, my teammates rode superbly, and we were almost surprised to finish the test on top of the timesheets against our factory rivals. We will analyse the data and see if we can find a few more tenths for qualifying, but we are happy with the work we have done so far. The race will be tough, and it will be hard to fight against the factory teams, but our team is fantastic, and I think we have a great chance, so I look forward to seeing what we can do in Free Practice and Qualifying.”

Mandy Kainz
Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager – Team Manager
“We achieved what we wanted during the two-day test, and each rider improved their race pace compared to the test in July. The team worked superbly to dial in the settings on the R1 and Bridgestone tyres, and we feel confident heading into the race weekend. Our best result was fourth place in Suzuka in 2009, and without as many factory teams this year, we have a great chance to fight for our first podium at this legendary circuit. Obviously, it will not be easy. As we have seen this year, anything can happen in endurance racing, but we are confident with our work and look forward to the race.”

 

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