World Endurance: Team HRC Claims Pole Position For Suzuka 8-Hours

World Endurance: Team HRC Claims Pole Position For Suzuka 8-Hours

© 2022, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

Suzuka 8 Hours - 2022 FIM Endurance World Championship - Top 10 Qualifying Session - Final ranking




More, from a press release issued by FIM EWC:


A delayed and revised Top 10 Trial for pole position for the third round of the FIM Endurance World Championship saw Tetsuta Nagashima post a 2m04.934 to take pole position on the #33 Team HRC CBR1000RR-R SP for tomorrow’s 43rd running of the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours whilst YART lead the way for the EWC season-contenders.

After mixed conditions affected running so far at Suzuka the single pole lap format was revised for an open 40-minute session for the two nominated riders from each team.

For Team HRC, it was Nagashima first to push the Bridgestones, with the pole lap set on his first flying lap, which would prove to be unbeatable for the rest of the session.

“So I’m really happy to that we have achieved the pole position,” said Nagashima. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the top 10 trial today. But anyway, we’re going to do it’s very good to start from the pole opposition. So tomorrow we’re going to do a great job.

Next fastest was another Suzuka-only effort with the #10 Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8H ZX-10R and Jonathan Rea making amends for his FP2 off to set a 2m05.149s late on in the session.

“I was very happy with the lap time,” said Rea. “I got caught out a little bit this morning with the Bridgestone tyre as it’s the first time I’ve ever used their soft tyre. We’ve been working with the race tyre and I underestimated how much grip the soft has in change of direction.

“I really support the race directors when they changed the Top 10 Trial format because so many riders hadn’t completed one chrono lap, so for me to go into super pole and set one lap would have been very strange. So, instead we had 40 minutes to make the lap time and step by step I understood this soft tyre and you know the lap time was quite good, I made a few mistakes but really happy with second place.

“Congratulations to Tetsuto as it’s an incredible lap time. My team-mates have been doing a really good job this week and we’ve got a great starting position.”

Leading the charge for the EWC season contenders, it was the #7 YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC with all three riders going out in the session as allowed by the revised format, and all three posting times in the 2m05s.

It was Karel Hanika last to post his fast time and his was the fastest too, with a 2m05.769s from Marvin Fritz on a 2m05.776s and Niccolò Canape with a 2m05.981s, illustrating just how well matched the YART riders are.

“I’m pretty happy to sit here next to these guys so congratulations to Honda and Kawasaki,” said Hanika. “First of all, I should not have been running today as I had a pretty nasty crash yesterday so the Top 10 Trial should have been for my team-mates. To stand here today with the fastest lap on the Yamaha is pretty good, but the most important is that all of us are fast.

“Coming to this race we knew that we were lacking a bit of pace in the testing compared to these guys, so that is what we were working on this week. We can feel the improvements in the dry conditions and even in the wet. Probably we need to improve in the mix conditions, but hopefully we can be good tomorrow.”

Second quickest of the regulars was the #5 FCC TSR CBR1000RR-R Fireblade with Josh Hook posting a 2m06.204s, whilst the #37 BMW MOTORRAD WORLD ENDURANCE TEAM M1000RR qualified 9th with Markus Reiterberger setting a 2m06.897s.




More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

KRT Takes Second Place On Suzuka 8 Hours Grid

Saturday practice and qualifying at the 2022 Suzuka 8 Hours took place in unexpected fashion as the competing teams entered the final day before the race itself on Sunday. The Number 10 official KRT squad ended a sometimes dramatic few hours on track second on the starting grid, just 0.215 seconds from the very top.

A final – and unexpected – ‘Superpole-style’ qualifying session was held over 40 minutes duration. It determined the top ten starting places for the 43rd Suzuka 8 Hours race. The planned ‘Ten Lap Trial’ qualifying format, for the ten best teams from earlier qualifying sessions, was cancelled. The final free practice session held just before the Top Ten Trial had been cut short after a crash, reducing important preparation time for the Top Ten Trial itself.

WorldSBK KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes were the two riders who set the final qualifying laps for the team in the 40 minute session. Lowes was fast straight away on his first flying lap with a soft Bridgestone rear tyre, but Rea could not capitalise fully in his first run on the soft tyre.

The team and rider came up with a plan that saw Rea finally qualify second fastest, to earn an almost ideal starting position alongside the fastest qualifiers from Team HRC. Rea set a strong 2’05.149 lap on the Ninja ZX-10RR despite not having a perfectly clean best lap.

Weather conditions for Raceday are predicted to be changeable which promises a challenging day for all 45 teams who are on the provisional starting grid. Wise tyre and refuelling strategies will count as much as the three riders’ personal on-track performances.

Kawasaki will now attempt to take a third Suzuka 8 Hours victory as a manufacturer.

The 43rd Suzuka 8 Hours will start – and finish – on Sunday 7 August 2022.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am very happy with the lap-time. This morning I got caught out a little bit with the tyre. It is the first time I have ever used the soft tyre from Bridgestone. We have been working a lot with our race tyre and I underestimated how much grip there was in the change of direction. So, to do the ‘Time Attack’, I support the decision of the directors when they changed the format. With so many riders having completed one chrono lap, for me to go into a Superpole one lap session was very strange. We then had 40 minutes to make a lap time.  Step-by-step, I understood the soft tyre and the lap was quite good. I made a few mistakes but I am really happy with second place. My team-mates have been doing a really good job this weekend so we have an incredible starting position.”

Alex Lowes, stated: “I am really happy with qualifying. For me it was my best ever lap at Suzuka and I have been coming here for a long time. So that was nice. As a team we have been doing a really good job. We have worked hard for the race and we have been pretty good in all different conditions. It looks like we are going to have some typical Suzuka rain, on-and-off, on Sunday. So we need to be prepared for that and able to adapt to all the situations. But we are really enjoying being back here at the Suzuka 8-Hours. It has been a couple of years since we have been able to come back so I am happy to be here now. It’s been a pleasure to be riding with these guys, Leon and Jonathan, and I am looking forward to the race tomorrow.”

Leon Haslam, stated: “For me it was a different qualifying day to normal, when I would have had the pressure of riding. Today, I think I was more nervous watching these guys and there was more excitement than when I had to ride the bike! They both did an amazing job. Alex straight in with a tyre he had never used before and into the 2.05s. Johnny was fantastic. Honestly, the team has been working really well and I am happy to be a part of the Kawasaki Racing Team with these two guys. Step-by-step again now and we will see what the weather holds tomorrow. I am feeling very confident and really happy with everything so far.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “It has been another stressful Saturday because first it was wet and raining in the morning. Then we didn’t know how to approach the Top Ten Trial. In the Free Practice before the Top Ten Trial qualifying Johnny fell and we needed to reorganise some things in our strategy. Then there was another crash and they had to cancel the free practice. Then the organisation and the FIM had to cancel the Top Ten Trial, and we went into 40 minutes of Superpole-style qualifying. In that time we had to play with the tyres we had left; not so many. We organised to work with Johnny and Alex as the two riders who would go for the best lap time. Alex made an incredible job using the soft tyre for the first time. He had to run fast straight away but also check the feeling he was getting. He made an incredible lap time. At the same time Johnny, in the first ‘out,’ did not quite understand the soft tyre. But in his second run he was so fast. If he could have made a perfect clean lap maybe he could run in 2’04.8 or 2’04.9 pace? In any case, it is was incredible. We are so happy for that and let’s see how we are tomorrow in the race itself.”

The famous #11 machine of Webike SRC Kawasaki France with riders Randy de Puniet, Etienne Masson and Florian Marino, will start a positive 12th on the grid in the Superbike class. Kawasaki Plaza Racing Team, with riders Ryosuke Iwato, Yuta Okaya and Naoki Kiyosue, were the second place qualifiers in the Superstock category and an impressive 14th overall, even when measured against the more highly race-prepared Superbike squads.




More, from a press release issued by Yamaha:

YART Yamaha Set to Start Suzuka 8 Hours from Third

The Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team will begin the 43rd edition of the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race from third after a strong performance in a revised Top 10 qualifying session on Saturday in Japan.

The Austrian squad of Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz, and Karel Hanika ended Friday’s rain-affected qualifying sessions at Round 3 of the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) in second and got off to a great start on Saturday as they backed up that pace in the final Free Practice session by setting a 2:06.888 to finish in second.

Due to safety issues, the normal Top 10 Trial format at Suzuka – where two riders from each team are selected to take to the track one at a time and their average lap time decides the final grid spots – was swapped for a more conventional 40-minute session featuring the fastest ten teams from Friday’s combined qualifying sessions.

The format change meant that all three YART riders could set a lap as they continued to spearhead the Yamaha attack against their championship rivals and factory teams, with only the fastest time counting towards the final result. In the EWC, five championship points are available during qualifying, so the session took on even more importance in the overcast but hot and humid conditions at Suzuka.

Canepa was the first out after setting the fastest time on Friday (2:05.863), and the Italian rider immediately showed he meant business by recording a 2:05.981 on his first flying lap. He was going even quicker on his next lap but had to pit for fuel, and a small mistake on his second run meant he could not improve.

Handing the Bridgestone-shod YART Yamaha R1 over to his teammate Fritz, the German rider improved the team’s time to a 2:05.776 on his first attempt to record his personal best lap around the iconic 5.821km Suzuka Circuit. After another pit stop, it was time for Hanika to take to the track, looking to prove a point following the disruption of both of his qualifying sessions on Friday due to rain.

The 26-year-old had to adapt quickly to the change in format, as he was not due to ride during the Top 10 Trial and therefore had not gone out to do a lap in the Free Practice session. Despite this, the Czech rider used the chance to show his true pace to improve the team’s time even more by setting a 2:05.769, a new fastest-ever lap for a Yamaha in EWC at Suzuka. This was good enough to secure third on the timesheets, 0.835s off pole position and meant YART finished as the leading full-time EWC team, only behind the two factory squads, securing three vital championship points in the process.

Having shown incredibly consistent pace all week, whether during the day or at night, in wet or dry conditions, the Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team head into Sunday’s 8-hour race full of confidence that they can take the fight to the factory teams and attempt to close the now 27-point gap to the leaders in the EWC overall standings. The action on Sunday kicks off at 8:30 am local time (UTC+9) before the legendary endurance race begins with the traditional Le Mans running start at 11:30 am.

Karel Hanika – P3 (2:05.769)

Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“Today was incredible! It was a tough day for me yesterday after what happened during qualifying. I would not have been riding today in the Top 10 Trial, but the format change meant I had a second chance. We made a plan that we would each do two laps, and Niccolò, who was the quickest yesterday, would get another two laps at the end. I had to adjust quickly when they announced the format change, as I was not supposed to be riding, and I didn’t do a lap in the Free Practice session this morning. It was not easy to get up to speed quickly, and I made a few small mistakes, but in the end, it was still enough to set the fastest-ever lap for Yamaha at Suzuka. We know our potential is higher as our ideal lap time was a lot quicker, but for each of us to set our best times within one-tenth of each other over the last two days is remarkable. Everything is working really well with the YART Yamaha R1, now, we need to be a bit lucky during the race, make the right decisions, and we can fight at the front. We have more EWC experience than the factory teams, so we are confident and can’t wait for the race tomorrow.”

Marvin Fritz – P3 (2:05.776)

Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“Today was a really good day! We were the only team with all three riders breaking into the 2:05s, which shows we have great pace and consistency. It is incredible when you think that all three riders have set times this week quicker than Yamaha had ever been around Suzuka in the past, even with the factory team. Thank you to all of the team for doing an amazing job and my teammates for being so quick. We have good pace in the dry, and we were also the fastest during the wet Night Practice on Friday, so I think we are ready for the race, whatever the weather throws at us. Our target is to get on the podium, but we will just focus on ourselves and see where we finish at the end of the 8 hours.”

Niccolò Canepa – P3 (2:05.981)

Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

“We are incredibly happy about securing third in qualifying because all three riders were in the 2:05s. Honestly, this was our target, so we are delighted to have achieved it. I am pleased with my time. I could have gone even quicker, but I ran out of fuel towards the end of my first stint and then made a small mistake on my second attempt. My teammates were superb, and it shows how strong we are as a team that we all managed laps in the 2:05s. The YART Yamaha R1 is working so well here at Suzuka; we are full of confidence heading into the race. Thanks to all of the team and my teammates for their hard work.”

Mandy Kainz

Yamalube YART Yamaha Official EWC Team – Team Manager

“Today, we saw what teamwork is all about. All three riders lapped in the 2:05s, and we were only behind the two factory teams. Considering the resources we have at our disposal, this is a superb result, and we managed to achieve our target. We have shown this week that we are fast in all conditions, and the team have worked superbly to prepare the bike in the best possible way. We head into tomorrow’s race confident we can fight with the factory teams and looking to close the gap to our full-time rivals in the EWC championship. Anything can happen in endurance racing, but we have put ourselves in a great position for the race.”

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