The Suzuka 8 Hours is regarded as one of the biggest motorcycle events on the calendar, and with a host of local Japanese teams using their knowledge and experience at the circuit competition is high. There are 68 teams in the mix, only ten of which are regular FIM Endurance World Championship contenders, including Honda Endurance Racing and the Suzuka 8 Hours is the final round of the 2016-2017 season.
During the two-stage qualifying session Honda’s endurance specialists Freddy Foray, Julien Da Costa and Sébastien Gimbert battled with the heat, with track temperatures rising to 39° during the afternoon’s session. Working to optimise the settings of the all-new Fireblade to suit the three riders, the team also worked closely with Dunlop on tyre-life.
Race strategy is key within endurance racing and with a proven track record of near-perfect strategy with stops and re-fuelling, the Honda team turned their attentions to this during qualifying to fully-utilise their endurance knowledge ready for the eight-hour race.
Qualifying in 26th place with an overall combined time of 2’12.058, the Honda squad was in the mix with the rest of the permanent EWC teams and close behind EWC rivals and championship leaders SERT, who qualified 22nd with a time of 2’11.513.
The Suzuka 8 Hours takes place tomorrow (Sunday 30 July) at 1130am Japanese local time (GMT+9).
Freddy Foray 111
We have qualified in 26th place, of course we would like to be higher but we have the race pace and a good race strategy to work with tomorrow. Qualifying was difficult with the mixed conditions from the morning, which was cooler and then the higher temperatures in the afternoon. We have been working hard with the feeling and getting this right for myself, Julien and Sébastien. I hope the weather stays consistent tomorrow, not too hot and we can have a good start and push through the eight hours. We are not far from our EWC competitors, so we have to focus on that and keep pushing.
Julien Da Costa 111
We were lucky with the first session as the track was much cooler, which is better for everything; the CBR and us as riders. I’ve got a good feeling with the Fireblade and we are faster with each session. It’s difficult with the heat and also there are 68 teams in the race, so at times the track can get busy. Our qualifying position, yes we are far from the front, but we’re not far from our direct competition, with the full-time EWC teams, so we have to be focused on this. We know that we are very efficient with fuel and quick with our stops, so I am not worried about the race!
Sébastien Gimbert 111
The position for me is not so good, but the lap times were good so it shows that we can have good race pace. We are in with our EWC competition and not so far from them. Tomorrow they are our goal, we are in a championship and this is the final round so we need to make sure our focus is that and finishing the year with some good points towards this. I think we can finish within the top-15 and with the level of competition out there, I think this would be good. I am looking forward to getting racing tomorrow and seeing what we can do, I have faith in the team, in us and also in the Fireblade.
I’m fairly happy with how things have been going this week and where our EWC competition is, we have closed the gap from previous races and are pushing on. It’s hard to judge here from the outside, there are the local Japanese teams on different tyres and being local they have a wealth of knowledge at Suzuka, they are quicker but they are not our direct competition. It is the permanent EWC teams like SERT, we are racing against and they are our competition within the championship. We want to be higher, but we are keeping our eye on the competition and if we compare their lap times and ours, we are in a good position. We need to not lose focus in the race, we know we have a good strategy and fast stops, so we need to focus on that and finish the EWC championship in a strong position.
Suzuka Circuit, Japan
|1||YAMAHA FACTORY RACING||Yamaha||2’06.038|
|2||Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing||Suzuki||2’06.282|
|3||Kawasaki Team Green||Kawasaki||2’06.381|
|4||F.C.C TSR Honda||Honda||2’06.600|
|5||MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO||Honda||2’06.671|
|7||Moriwaki Motul Racing||Honda||2’08.041|
|8||Honda Suzuka Racing Team||Honda||2’08.178|
|10||Satu HATI Honda Team Asia||Honda||2’09.966|
|11||S-Pulse Dream Racing||Suzuki||2’09.386|
|12||Honda Dream Racing||Honda||2’09.450|
|13||BMW Motorrad 39||BMW||2’09.574|
|14||Team SuP Dream Honda||Honda||2’09.899|
|15||GMT94 – Yamaha||Yamaha||2’09.950|
|17||ITO RACING GMD&REDGRIFFIN||Yamaha||2’10.262|
|18||Honda DREAM RT SAKURAI HONDA||Honda||2’10.366|
|19||Mistresa with ATJ Racing||Honda||2’10.508|
|20||au&Teluru Kohara RT||Honda||2’11.070|
|21||EVA RT WEBIKE Trick Star||Kawasaki||2’11.324|
|22||Suzuki Endurance Racing Team||Suzuki||2’11.513|
|24||Titanium Power HOOTERS Racing||Yamaha||2’11.840|
|25||AKENO SPEED – YAMAHA||Yamaha||2’12.017|
|26||Honda Endurance Racing||Honda||2’12.058|