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Aug 4, 2001

Ryo Takes Suzuka 8-hour Pole For Suzuki

The wonders of international PR bring us the news that a Suzuki is on pole at Suzuka, courtesy of a Honda press release written by a Japanese writer:<BR><BR><BR>Ryo Snatches Suzuka 8 Hours Pole From Rossi<BR><BR>Akira Ryo will start tomorrow's Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance race from pole position. The Team Suzuki rider grabbed top spot on the grid with a superb lap in the final 'Special Stage' held at the 5.864km circuit today.<BR><BR>"Special Stage is only a show," said Ryo. "I wanted to do 2:07.7 but the temperature was high. Still I'm happy because we can start from the top. I want to win the race tomorrow with Kagayama and Watanabe."<BR><BR>Qualifying for the race is held over two days with the best lap times of each team rider combined to establish their average speed. The grid is then locked, the top 20 teams apart. <BR><BR>The two fastest riders from the top 20 teams each try to better their time via the Special Stage, a 'Double Superpole' type shoot out. The time set by the fastest man in the team establishing their position on the grid.<BR><BR>At the end of two days of qualifying it was 2000 race winners Tohru Ukawa and Daijiro Katoh, together with reserve rider Makoto Tamada (Cabin Honda), set the pace from Ryo, Yukio Kagayama and Akira Watanabe, with the Cabin Hondas of Valentino Rossi, Colin Edwards and Shinichi Itoh plus that of Tadayuki Okada, Alex Barros and Manabu Kamada.<BR><BR>Fastest lap in regular qualifying was set by Rossi. His time of 2:07.349 was four-tenths of a second faster than that of Ryo and a further tenth faster than Ukawa.<BR><BR>In the special stage Noriyuki Haga (Yamaha) was first man close to breaking the 2:09 barrier, missing out by just 0.010s. The Kawasaki of Hitoyasu Izutsu was the first to dip under 2:09, taking provisional pole in the process. Okada was next to try but failed and will take fifth place along the pit wall in the Le Mans type start.<BR><BR>Rossi was next to go out and, despite a crash in the morning free practice session, set a blistering time of 2:08.146. But Ryo had been in good form all weekend and went even faster with a time of 2:08.093 pushing Rossi, Edwards and Itoh into second spot.<BR><BR>That left Honda's hopes of pole position riding on the shoulders of Ukawa's cabin Honda. It was not to be, Ukawa, at his own admission, was well off the pace and their team will start from third, courtesy of Katoh's time.<BR><BR>Okada, Barros and Tamada start from sixth place ahead of the Yamahas of Haga and Anthony Gobert, and the second team machine of Naoki Matsudo and Wataru Yoshikawa. <BR><BR>The Team Kohtake & Sakurai Honda VTR of Yuichi Takeda and Tetsuya Yamaguchi take ninth place on the grid. <BR><BR><BR>Qualifying times: (lead off rider named first).<BR><BR>1. Akira Ryo/Yukio Kagayama, Suzuki, 2:08.093<BR>2. Valentino Rossi/Colin Edwards, Honda, 2:08.146 <BR>3. Daijiro Katoh/Tohru Ukawa, Honda, 2:08.297<BR>4. Hitoyasu Izutsu/Akira Yanagawa, Kawasaki, 2:08.305 <BR>5. Tadayuki Okada/Alex Barros, Honda, 2:08.385<BR>6. Noriyuki Haga/Anthony Gobert, Yamaha, 2:09.010<BR>7. Naoki Matsudo/Wataru Yoshikawa, Yamaha, 2:09.045<BR>8. Keiichi Kitagawa/Toshiyuki Arakaki, Suzuki, 2:09.149<BR>9. Yuichi Takeda/Tetsuya Yamaguchi, Honda, 2:09.163<BR>10. Osamu Nishijima/Ryuji Tsuruta, Kawasaki, 2:09.501<BR><BR><BR>Team Cabin Honda:<BR><BR>Valentino Rossi. No 11: "Pole position would have been great but because I had a silly crash this morning I did not go as hard as maybe I could have. It is disappointing to set a 2:07.3 in regular qualifying and then get a 2:08.1 in the attack stage. But second place is perfect for us, the race is not decided in practice and the race is eight hours long.<BR><BR>"Colin (Edwards) is also having a good feeling and the machine is fine, so we are looking forward to tomorrow's race. All we have to do is not crash like last year. Tomorrow, I take the start. It's a first experience for me and I'm looking forward to it. I'm quite good at running, you know!"<BR><BR>Colin Edwards. No 11: "Today's special stage was okay and I'm satisfied with my time. When Valentino crashed during the free practice I was anxious. But as he didn't get injured and the machine wasn't heavily damaged, I was relieved. We are getting good tyres for the race and we are looking forward to it. Tomorrow the only tactics is not to crash."<BR><BR>Noriaki Nakata, Cabin Honda team manager Rossi - Edwards: "The reason for Valentino's crash during free practice was a brake adjustment mistake. The nightmare of last year's crash suddenly crossed my mind. So I was quite nervous during the special stage. But both riders did a good job and I am satisfied. No crash is the key for tomorrow's race."<BR><BR>Daijiro Katoh. No 4: "I can ride on my own during the special stage without any traffic and I like it. But today I didn't push to the limit. The top speed of my VTR1000SPW is 288km/h and I guess this was due to a fair wind. Of course I want to win again tomorrow. I will try my best although I will be careful not to crash."<BR><BR>Tohru Ukawa. No 4: "I rode terribly today. I am disappointed. I made a lot of mistakes. Maybe I was too tense. But tomorrow I will ride smoothly and win the race."<BR><BR>Machimasa Arima, Cabin Honda team manager Katoh - Ukawa: "We wanted to get pole but third on the grid is not so bad. We found a good machine set-up and have also decided which tyres to use tomorrow. The race will be tough tomorrow and our tactics will be to stay in the top group till the later stages then get out of the group to win the race. Smooth preparation and pit work will be necessary to accomplish our goal."<BR><BR>Tadayuki Okada. No 33: "I didn't like the special stage so much before but Michelin prepared superb tyres for us this time and I felt comfortable today. When Alex crashed during free practice he wasn't using the new front tyre so I wasn't worried at all.<BR><BR>"Both Alex and I are doing so well this time and we are enjoying ourselves. I think we can enjoy the race also. I want to win this 8 Hours and am looking forward to improving my Superbike results."<BR><BR>Alex Barros. No 33: "I could have gone faster for the time attack today. But I crashed in free practice so I didn't push to the limit during the time attack. Also it was very hot and the grip was not so good. The 8 Hours is a long race and it is important to do consistent times. Fifth on the starting grid is a lucky position for us. When we won in 1999, we started from fifth position. I remember it well."<BR> <BR>Nobuo Ono, Cabin Honda team manager Okada - Barros: "Both riders set almost the same time during the special stage and that's very good. During free practice Alex crashed, soon after he set a time of 2:07. But it was a good lesson for him to know his limit. Both our riders are well experienced and they will show their fighting spirit tomorrow."