Team Suzuki Press Office – July 20.
Suzuki GSX-R1000 teams completed a positive three-day at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan ahead of next weekend’s final round of the 2018-2019 Endurance World Championship, the 42nd Suzuka 8 Hours race.
The three-day shakedown event saw many changes in weather conditions; from rain to hot and dry times and with 45-degree track temperatures, allowing for a productive test.
Currently second in the points, 15-time EWC Champion Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black tested alongside YOSHIMURA SUZUKI MOTUL RACING (Kagayama, Kazuki Watanabe and Sylvain Guintoli while TK SUZUKI BLUE MAX(TK SUZUKI) will challenge with Takuya Tsuda, Aslan Shah Kamaruzaman and Gregory Leblanc. S-PULSE DREAM RACING·IAI(S-PULSE)riders are Hideyuki Ogata, Tommy Bridewell and Bradley Ray. Motomap S.W.A.T. (Motomap) has entered the Superstock (SST) class where the modifications to the machine is limited. Riders are Josh Waters, Dan Linfoot and Nobuatsu Aoki.
Dry conditions on the second day resulted in an overall sixth position (team position 5th) for Yoshimura with a best time of 2’07.495, S-pulse followed in 12th (9th) at 2’07.966, SERT in 18th (11th) at 2’08.607, and TK SUZUKI in 22nd(14th) at 2’09.524.
Motomap in the SST class clocked a 2’09.940 lap in session 3 of the first day, while Titan reached 2’16.793 on session 10 of the second day.
The final day of the testing was wet in the early morning and turned to heavy rain by the time the sessions started. The Suzuka 8 Hours is known for unexpected and extreme weather, so this was a perfect opportunity for the teams to set up for wet conditions.
Yoshimura scored overall 2nd at the close of the test with a 2’20.581 while the second fastest Suzuki was TK SUZUKI in 7th with a time of 2’22.094. S-Pulse also finished in the top 10 with a time of 2’22.828.
SUZUKI ENDURANCE RACING TEAM:
Vincent Philippe: “I was happy to be able to attend this test with the team. It wouldn’t have happened without the support from everyone. The down side was that it was unexpectedly cold. I’m familiar with the heat of Suzuka so this was a surprise. However, we were able to find a suitable compound tyre and all of the riders reached a respectable lap-time so that was positive.”
Etienne Masson: “It took a little time to get used to the track since it’s been a year since I have ridden here before, but on the second day, the temperature rose, and I felt more confident and was able to put in some reasonable laps. It’s nothing like the hot and humid Japanese summer yet, but we gathered important data and confidence. We intend to fight hard in this final round and aim for the championship.”
Gregg Black: “Suzuka’s the final round of the world championship and that means a lot to our team. The present gap with the championship leader is only 5 points, and the positive feel we have gained from the tyres and other components in this test was ensuring. We intend to do even better than the previous year.”
YOSHIMURA SUZUKI MOTUL RACING:
Yukio Kagayama: “Dealing with the heat is a key factor at the Suzuka 8 Hours and is an important testing subject. On the second day of the testing the track surface temperature finally reached around 45 degrees which allowed us to set up the machine with the race in mind. It’s the first time for Sylvain and Kazuki to be on the same team but the adjustments were easy and proceeded well. Rain on the last day was also a plus. We were able to feel the potential of the Bridgestone wet tyres.”
Sylvain Guintoli: “It’s my third year with Yoshimura, and the bike gets better every year so my priority for this test was to get used to the Superbike. We wanted to reset last year’s situation by finding a good set between paired riders too. However, Suzuka’s one of my favourite courses and I was able to carry out the test sessions with good vibes while having fun. The heat on the second day was important to gather valuable data because the heat is always a major fact to deal with in Suzuka.”
Kazuki Watanabe: “I was a little concerned how the adjustment for the three riders would go since it was the first time we were together, and especially Sylvain, who is tall at around 180cm. I expected he’d request a more spacious riding position, but he didn’t have any complaints to the position which fits me (170cm) and was not only able to adapt but to show top performance in the restricted circumstance. I admire him as a top rider to have so much talent and flexibility. On the last session of the second day, I did the long-run test. Being able to keep a high pace over many laps was assuring both for me and the team.”
Yohei Kato – Yoshimura Team Manager: “We developed two types of bikes for the first test in June, to make a benchmark to find the areas we need to work on. At this test the three riders worked hard to assess the test menu we had proposed, and we were able to make a solid step-up. I think we are now close to having a well-balanced machine, and I think these sure-footed efforts is what makes the Yoshimura team so competitive. We appreciate your support.”
TK SUZUKI BLUE MAX:
Takuya Tsuda: “I had an issue with the stability of the front tyre and that improved in this testing. It isn’t perfect yet, but we’ve made a big step forward and now we can concentrate on finer set-ups on the tyres and suspension. We experienced a spill in the testing which cost us time and were not able to finish all the criteria we intended so that was a pity, but still, it was a good testing and I think we have narrowed the gap between us and other teams.”
S-PULSE DREAM RACING·IAI:
Hideyuki Ogata: “The cool weather was unexpected, but you never know, the race could also be a cool day, so it was a good opportunity to find various set-ups to deal with any kind of weather. It’s been a while since Tommy and Bradley have ridden at Suzuka, so we made sure they got plenty of laps and the set-up also was in their priority with me adjusting to them. Lap times aren’t that dramatic yet but as a total, I think we have made progress.”
Tommy Bridewell: “The main meaning of this test was so that all the riders can feel comfortable and confident on the same bike. If we can set the bike up to be an easy bike for all the riders, I believe we could fight for the podium. On the second day we were able to push hard in the dry session and I think the bike’s set-up is at around 85%. There are still a few things that need improvement but the remaining 15% will have to be achieved in the race week.”
Bradley Ray: “Since last year’s MFJ-GP I was riding at Suzuka, I felt a little pressure at first. My priority was to get used to the environment and try to understand the bike. I know we have very fast rival teams but with careful testing and a little bit of luck, we might be aiming for the podium.”
Josh Waters: “It was a fulfilling 3 days for me. I had the speed and average lap-times were also good. I think we are prepared to win the SST class. The time of the flying lap could have been better but with the good average times I don’t think it’s a problem. As for the rain on the last day, well, as my family name says, I don’t mind the wet conditions at all! Look forward to the race week!”
Dan Linfoot: When I joined the team at the test in June I was able to instantly clock a 2 minute 9 second lap, so I must say it was positive from the start. I joined this test to get used to the bike and asses consumption issues. The team wants to race with as few pit stops as possible, so I concentrated on fuel-consumption-conscious riding rather than fast lap times. I’m happy with the progress we are making.”
Nobuatsu Aoki: “It’s six years now pairing-up with Josh, however this year we have changed the suspension and tyres so gathering data in these test sessions is very important and hard work. We have tried various set-ups and the results are positive. The opportunity to ride in the wet was also valuable, and I feel we are ready for the race week.”