Team Suzuki Press Office – August 5.
Yoshimura SERT Motul: Suzuki GSX-R1000R – 22nd.
The Yoshimura Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Motul face a tough race without two of its riders this weekend, the reigning world champion team gave its best in qualifying, but the arrival of rain significantly disrupted its work and Suzuki set the 22nd fastest time.
The Coca-Cola 8 Hours of Suzuka in Japan is a highly anticipated event for all endurance enthusiasts after a two-year absence from the FIM EWC calendar and it is the third and penultimate round of the 2022 season. The stakes are high for all the top teams, starting with the Yoshimura SERT Motul, which is firmly established at the top of the provisional championship standings.
The Franco-Japanese team approach this round with the will to shine at the home of Suzuki and Yoshimura and to keep the lead of the championship.
In order to put all the chances on their side, the team managers relied on the experience of Japanese Kazuki Watanabe, who knows the Suzuka track very well, to reinforce the usual trio of riders. But the established plan was completely disrupted following the withdrawal of the Belgian Xavier Simeon for health reasons and Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli with injury.
In qualifying, the team’s hopes were placed on Watanabe and Gregg Black.
During his two qualifying sessions, Black was able to position himself at the front of the timesheet each time. He recorded his best lap in Q1, with a time of 2.07.363.
Unfortunately, Watanabe did not benefit from optimal weather conditions. The work of the Japanese rider was disturbed by rain during each of his qualifying sessions but finished the day with the second best time of his session, in 2.12.432, on a wet track.
The Yoshimura SERT Motul was heavily penalised by these events and ended up with the 22nd fastest time. However, the team remains focused on its objectives and confident for the race, which will start at 11:30am (local time) on Sunday, August 7th.
Damien SAULNIER – Team Manager:
“The conditions were really not favourable for us. Gregg did good times, but Kazuki rode in the rain. Since we only have two riders, our ranking in practice is not good. But the main thing is going to be the race. The fact that we only have two riders in such a tough race means we have to adopt a special strategy. But it will be difficult for all the teams. Our goal is to keep an eye on our rivals in the championship, to score as many points as possible and to go to the Bol d’Or still leading the standings.”
Yohei KATO – Team Director:
“We have been unlucky since the beginning of the week. In qualifying, the rain prevented Kazuki from setting a good time, which gave an advantage to the teams with three riders, two of whom were able to ride in dry conditions. But we showed good things during practice and the race is a completely different story ! We will do everything to try to defend our title.”
“The first few days in Suzuka were a bit difficult because we don’t often get the chance to ride in such hot weather. But the free practice ended on a good note. So we were quite confident for qualifying. I benefited from cloudy weather, but the temperature was decreasing, which allowed me to have a good pace and to get some good lap times. We were confident to enter the top 5 but unfortunately Kazuki could never ride in dry conditions. It’s a pity because there were 1 or 2 points to take in qualifying. But the most important thing is the race. It will be very difficult for us. It is a physical race, and we are only two riders. The objective will be to score as many points as possible.”
“We couldn’t apply our initial strategy in qualifying and the weather conditions were bad during my sessions. The rain came and I couldn’t do anything. I am really sorry for the team and for the many fans who support us. We will start from far back on the grid and that will make the race more difficult. But tomorrow is another day and we will do our best.”
“I am really gutted I can’t race this weekend. Returning to the Suzuka 8 Hours after 2 years was a great challenge, but unfortunately it’s impossible for me to race. We are leading the World Championship and I was looking forward to try to win this fantastic race. I wish the team and my teammates all the best, I know they are very strong, and I can’t wait to be back at the Bol d’Or for the next and final race.”
Saturday 6 August:
14h15-15h00: Free Practice
15h30-17h00: Top 10 Trial
17h00: Post-Top 10 Trial press conference
Sunday 7 August:
11h30: Start of 43rd Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race
19h30: Finish of 43rd Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race
20h00: Post-race press conference