Yamaha Factory Racing Fly to Third Consecutive Suzuka 8Hour Pole

Action resumed again on track today for the 40th Anniversary of the 2017 Coca-Cola Suzuka 8Hours. The afternoon saw the top ten teams from provisional qualifying contest the Top 10 Trial to decide the first ten grid positions. The Yamaha Factory Racing Team proved unbeatable, taking pole with a scorching 2’06.038s lap. The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team were also on form, the fastest of the non-Factory teams with a 2’07.634s lap for sixth on the grid.

Action resumed again on track today for the 40th Anniversary of the 2017 Coca-Cola Suzuka 8Hours. The afternoon saw the top ten teams from provisional qualifying contest the Top 10 Trial to decide the first ten grid positions. The Yamaha Factory Racing Team proved unbeatable, taking pole with a scorching 2’06.038s lap. The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team were also on form, the fastest of the non-Factory teams with a 2’07.634s lap for sixth on the grid.

After two previous years of the pressure of being the last rider out on track, Nakasuga was able to finally enjoy a less pressured Top 10 Trial today as the first YFRT rider to qualify. The local hero didn’t disappoint and had the Suzuka crowd on their feet as he turned each split time red on the timing boards on his way to the fastest lap of the day. Next up as the second Yamaha Factory Racing Team rider was Alex Lowes. The young Brit has been on top form all weekend so far and was determined to match his teammate’s pace. Lowes was on fire through the first splits, turning them red and looked likely to break under the lap record until a small mistake in the final chicane cost a few tenths of a second. The lap proved to be faster than everyone except Nakasuga, Lowes laying down a 2’06.225s time at the line.

Third teammate Michael van der Mark was denied the chance for a proper ride in the day’s earlier practice as a red flag brought the session to an early end. Despite this the Dutchman has already found a race pace to match Lowes and Nakasuga, putting the threesome in a strong position to fight for Yamaha’s third consecutive Suzuka 8Hours victory tomorrow.

The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team came out fighting in the Top 10 Trial, determined to prove their position as the fastest of the non-Factory racing teams. Kohta Nozane was left a little disappointed not to have dipped under the 2’08s mark with a 2’08.481s lap, but was happy to have completed the Trial successfully safe in the knowledge that there was more to come from YART. It was teammate Broc Parkes, the second rider out, who delivered the statement. Parkes was almost inch perfect, delivering a flying 2’07.634s lap to secure YART’s place in sixth on the grid. . Third rider Marvin Fritz has been quick to find a comparative race pace around the circuit on his first ever Suzuka race weekend, ensuring the team are ready to give 100% in tomorrow’s race.

Katsuyuki Nakasuga

Yamaha Factory Racing Team

“We’re very happy with today. As a team, I think any one of us could’ve gone out and taken pole and all three of us are at a really good level. I was pumped to see Alex going faster than me on his Top 10 Trial lap! He’s fast in the places I’m not! It’s the same R1 but depending on the rider, it can go faster in places you don’t expect and that’s really fun to watch. And you learn from it too, seeing that the bike can be ridden that way at that part of the track. Last year and the year before, I was the last one to go out so I was really nervous. I just didn’t ride at my best and couldn’t take pole. But this year I was able to and while that’s good, what’s important is tomorrow. Everybody on the team knows this; there’s no point if we don’t win the race and all three of us are focused on that. Together with the team staff, we’ll put 100% into doing our best tomorrow and aim for the top step of the podium. The three of us are equally sharing the expectations and pressure, so I think we’ll be able to put on a fun race for the fans!”

Alex Lowes

Yamaha Factory Racing Team

“Today was good, I enjoyed the Top 10 Trial a lot and the bike felt really good. I made some mistakes myself so I can’t be completely happy with my lap, especially the last sector. I think I felt quite good up until that point but it doesn’t really matter as we have eight hours tomorrow! I feel comfortable on the bike and I’m looking forward to a tough race. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got to win the Suzuka 8Hours again. I want to do a really good job for Yamaha in the race, this is my goal.”

Michael van der Mark

Yamaha Factory Racing Team

“It’s really good to see us take pole position. Nakasuga and Alex did amazing laps so I’m really proud of them. Of course it’s an endurance race so pole is not the main priority but it’s good that we can do a really fast lap, and also that we are really consistent in the normal runs. It’s going to be a tough race because many competitors are really fast but I have a good feeling. The bike is handling really well for the three of us, which is the key to success. I want to thank Nakasuga and Alex for their incredible laps today and I hope tomorrow we can finish the job.”

Wataru Yoshikawa

Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager

“We were able to take pole position today, so that’s obviously very happy for us as a team. This is our third time taking pole position and as we are going for our third straight win it’s a good lead in to the race. There was a lot of pressure for Nakasuga not to wreck the bike so I think he rode really well. Unfortunately we weren’t able to break the pole record but it was more than enough. Because Nakasuga had a good time already, I think Alex felt he had a lot of expectation on his shoulders, also not to wreck the bike so I think he rode really well. I thought it was a good experience for him also. The reason we have strength as a team is because all of them are accepting of each other’s abilities, ad also because they have trust in each other to cover. The reason Nakasuga could take pole is because he knew he had Alex and Michael behind him. Michael was unfortunately not able to ride today because of the red flag in practice but I know his ability and I trust in it, with that in mind I asked him to take a difficult role today and sit out.”

Broc Parkes

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“We have to be very happy with the result. For us the top six was our aim, The Factory teams were just in front of us and the gap to them was always going to be a little bit too much. The goal from my side was to try and do the best time I could to be in the top six. The time was the best I’ve done all weekend, I made a couple of mistakes in the first and last chicane which may have robbed me of a few tenths here or there bit it wouldn’t have changed our position anyway. I’m happy with what I’ve done for myself and for the team, and for the position. From there we can definitely fight at the front at the start of the race and try and hang in to the front guys and see what we can do.”

Marvin Fritz

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“Today’s result is really good. Sixth position after five Factory teams is a strong result. For me it was ok not to ride today because yesterday I made a really good qualifying with used tyres. For my first time here in Suzuka I’m really proud. I was really consistent which is good and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s race. I have three stints to do I think. It’s going to be probably the hardest race of my life but I’m looking forward to it!”

Kohta Nozane

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“Broc got us sixth on the grid which was great. For me, I wasn’t able to go as fast or do as much as I think I could have. I’m glad that this part of the race weekend is over and we can focus on tomorrow. We have no idea what can happen in the race, but over the last year we have fought as a team together, and all three of us have good pace here as well so I think we will be able to make a good race tomorrow.”

Mandy Kainz

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Manager

“Broc and Kohta really showed the maximum potential of our bike, tyres and riders. I think we did the best with the material we have, so to be the first position after the Factory bikes is absolutely the best that we can do, it was perfect. Tomorrow will be mixed conditions so we will see, but of course we will give our best.”

Suzuka 8 Hour stop Ten Trial Results
Pos Team Riders Best Time Gap
1 Yamaha Factory Racing Nakasuga/Lowes 2:06.038
2 YoshiMura Suzuki Motul Racing Guintoli/Tsuda 2:06.282 0.244
3 Kawasaki Team Green Watanabe/Haslam 2:06.381 0.343
4 F.C.C. TSR Honda De Puniet/Aegerter 2:06.600 0.562
5 MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda Takahashi/Nakagami 2:06.671 0.633
6 YART Yamaha Official EWC Team Nozane/Parkes 2:07.634 1.596
7 Moriwaki Motul Racing Kiyonari/Takahashi 2:08.041 2.003
8 Honda Suzuka Raing Team Kamei/Hiura 2:08.178 2.140
9 Team Kagayama Kagayama/Syahrin 2:08.616 2.578
10 Satu HATI Honda Team Asia Pratama/Wilairot 2:09.966 3.928
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