World Endurance: Yamaha Factory Racing Team On Provisional Pole Position At Suzuka 8-Hours

World Endurance: Yamaha Factory Racing Team On Provisional Pole Position At Suzuka 8-Hours

© 2019, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

42nd Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hours Endurance Race

FIM Endurance World Championship

Suzuka Circuit, Japan

July 26, 2019

Combined Qualifying Results (before the “Special Stage,” based on an average of each rider’s best lap time):

1. Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Katsuyuki Nakasuga/Alex Lowes/Michael van der Mark), Yam YZF-R1, SBK, 2:06.619

2. Kawasaki Team Green (Leon Haslam/Toprak Razgatlioglu/Jonathan Rea), Kaw ZX-10RR, SBK, 2:06.633

3. Red Bull Honda (Takumi Takahashi/Ryuichi Koyinari/Stefan Bradl), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, 2:07.106

4. MuSashi RT Harc-Pro Honda (Xavi Fores/Dominique Aegerter/Ryo Mizuno), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, 2:07.183

5. Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing (Sylvain Guintoli/Yukio Kagayama/Kazuki Watanabe), Suz GSX-R1000, SBK, 2:07.187

6. YART – Yamaha (Broc Parkes/Marvin Fritz/Niccolo Canepa), Yam YZF-R1, SBK, 2:07.309

7. F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Josh Hook/Freddy Foray/Mike Di Meglio), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, 2:07.478

8. au. Teluru SAG Racing Team (Kosuke Akiyoshi/Tetsuta Nagashima/Taiga Hada), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, 2:07.916

9. S-Pulse Dream Racing – IAI (Tommy Bridewell/Bradley Ray), Suz GSX-R1000, SBK, 2:08.311

10. KYB Moriwaki Racing (Yuki Takahashi/Tomoyoshi Koyama/Troy Herfoss), Hon CBR1000RR, SBK, 2:08.758

11. KRP SANYOUKOGYO & will raise RS-ITOH (Akira Yanagawa/Mark Aitchison/Ryosuke Iwata), Kaw ZX-10RR, SBK, 2:09.039

12. Honda Suzuka Racing Team (Yudai Kamei/Daijiro Hiura/Jun Tadokoro), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, 2:09.188

13. VRD Igol Pierret Experiences (Florian Alt/Florian Marino/Xavier Simeon), Yam YZF-R1, SBK, 2:09.287

14. Team SRC Kawasaki France (Jeremy Guarnoni/Erwan Nigon/David Checa), Kaw ZX-10RR, SBK, 2:09.494

15. TK Suzuki Blue Max (Gregory Leblanc/Azlan Kamaruzaman/Takuya Tsuda), Suz GSX-R1000, SBK, 2:09.553

16. MotoMap SWAT (Josh Waters/Dan Linfoot/Nobuatsu Aoki), Suz GSX-R1000, STK, 2:09.631

17. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe/Etienne Masson/Gregg Black), Suz GSX-R1000, SBK, 2:09.693

18. TONE RT SYNCEDGE 4413 (Tomoya Hoshino/Kokoro Atsumi/Takeshi Ishizuka), BMW S1000RR, STK, 2:09.908

19. Honda Asia Dream Racing with SHOWA (Muhammad Zaqhwan/Andi Farid Izdihar/Teppei Nagoe), HoCBR1000RR SP2, SBK, 2:10.047

20. Team ATJ with JAPAN POST (Taro Sekiguchi/Satoru Iwata/Takuma Kunimine), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, 2:10.116

21. Honda Endurance Racing Team (Randy De Puniet/Yonny Hernandez/Sebastien Gimbert), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, 2:10.190

More, from a press release issued by FIM/EuroSport Events:


After taking control in first qualifying at the Suzuka 8 Hours, Yamaha Factory Racing Team confirmed pole position on the provisional starting grid ahead of Kawasaki Racing Team and Red Bull Honda. The final grid line-up will be decided tomorrow after the Top 10 trial.

Following a particularly eventful and heated first qualifying session, grid positions remained largely static in the second round of qualifying. Yamaha Factory Racing Team retained their place as leaders with Katsuyuki Nakasuga (today’s fastest rider, who posted a 2:05.922 lap), Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark. Kawasaki Racing Team (Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu) were right behind in 2nd place, ahead of Red Bull Honda (Takumi Takahashi, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Stefan Bradl).

Although they significantly upped their performance in the second session, Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing (Sylvain Guintoli, Yukio Kagayama and Kasuki Watanabe) remained in 5th place behind Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda (Javier Fores, Dominique Aegerter and Ryo Mizuno).

YART Yamaha and F.C.C. TSR Honda France in the Top 10

Marvin Fritz shaved more than a half-second off his previous best time, enabling YART Yamaha (Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Niccolò Canepa) to move up a place and overtake the first FIM EWC team, F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike Di Meglio), who are now 7th on the provisional grid.

Au. Teluru SAG RT, S-Pulse Dream Racing and KYB Moriwaki Racing round off the roll call of the Top 10 teams who will face off tomorrow (Saturday) on a flying lap in the Top 10 Trial to redistribute the final positions on the starting grid of the 2019 Suzuka 8 Hours.

Of the other European FIM Endurance World Championship full-season teams, rookie squad VRD Igol Pierret Expériences (Florian Alt, Florian Marino and Xavier Siméon) secured a praiseworthy 13th spot just ahead of current world championship standings leaders Team SRC Kawasaki France (Jérémy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa). Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black), also world title contenders, will start from 17th place. Honda Endurance Racing (Randy de Puniet, Yonny Hernández and Sébastien Gimbert) are in 21st place, and Wójcik Racing Team 24th. Teams beyond 25th position include Team ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance, who were handicapped by engine shut-offs, Omega Maco Racing, Bolliger Team Switzerland, Eva RT Webike Tati Team Trick Star, GSM Racing and Motobox Kremer Racing.

All the teams that have qualified beyond 10th place will be back on the track at 11.30am local time on Sunday 28 July for the start of the 42nd edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours.

More, from a press release issued by Honda Endurance Racing:

Honda Endurance Racing ready for Suzuka 8 Hours challenge

Suzuka 8 Hours

Suzuka Circuit, Japan

The Honda Endurance Racing team, with its Endurance specialists Sébastien Gimbert, Randy de Puniet and Yonny Hernandez, is ready for the 2018/2019 FIM Endurance World Championship’s Grand Finale at the legendary Suzuka 8 Hours event this weekend.

Suzuka greeted the Endurance World Championship teams with blistering heat and high humidity during both days of testing on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as for the fully-packed programme today. After a two-hour Free Practice in the morning, each rider had two Qualifying sessions around lunch time, followed by the first night practice in which the rain, which had been forecast all day, finally hit. There was a brief rain shower in this morning’s test, but that soon dried.

Honda’s Endurance specialists made steady progress and improved on their lap times from a year ago, but the competition is fiercer than ever for this iconic race. Struggling with front end grip on the 50+ degree Celsius tarmac, the team have been working hard all weekend to make gains and will continue to do so to be ready for the big final race of the season on Sunday, 28th of July.

It was Columbian rider Yonny Hernandez who took the team’s glory of being the fastest man of the trio, and the only one to lap sub 2:10 minutes. All three riders were close in pace though, and that consistency over eight hours of racing is incredibly important in overall race time. The Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 #111 will start the race from 21st position.

The 42ndEdition of the Suzuka 8 Hours gets underway at 11.30 local time (BST +8 hours) on Sunday 28 July. For all the latest news and updates on the team follow @HondaRacingCBR on Twitter.

Sébastien Gimbert

My feeling is not so good because this position is not what I have come here for. We have too much problem with chattering and this makes it difficult to ride – especially here on this track. The bike is physical and it is not easy to pass other riders. Also yesterday I crashed two times losing the front. Honestly I had no feeling on the bike but today after the qualification it was a little bit better. For a better result we need to find two more seconds but at the moment I don’t know where to find it. This is not our normal position in the ranking, but we have two more sessions to work on everything and find a solution to our issues.

Randy de Puniet

Since the beginning of this week we struggle a lot in many points. We had hoped for some improvement during today, but finally all we tried did not work out. Hats off to the team that did an amazing job in every direction to get our problems fixed. But in the end we are too slow. On my side, I have chattering everywhere so I can’t ride the bike without taking risks and there is no point to take any risks when you are four seconds slower. Honestly I am really disappointed for everybody at the moment but it is like this. We have another session tonight and one tomorrow to find a solution.

Yonny Hernandez

It was really hard work for the team and the riders so far. We have some problems with the setup and the feeling so far, especially with the grip. We only have the tires we normally ride in Europe and so we have a lot of work to do. I think now we need to focus on riding with the material we have right now. We are all just trying to do our best and I think this is not our position. But we keep working to try to get the best combination so we can do a good race. A big thanks goes out to the team for the really hard work done so far this week. We are having two more sessions where we can find something more. I am not disappointed but I am really surprised about the gap we are having compared to the other teams we were fighting all season so we know we can be faster, we just need to keep working hard to find the solution.

Jonny Twelvetrees

Team Manager

We made an improvement on last year but the improvement is smaller this year compared to other tracks. We are disappointed because we were expecting more. We had our problems at the start of the week and it has been hard to eradicate them whilst keeping a compromise between all three riders. That’s been where we have been struggling. We are working on that more and are slowly coming to a setup that is the compromise between all three and we are going to take it to the night practice and tomorrow’s session. We are planning on doing a bit of a race simulation to see how it works in reality because we have been working on individual setups until now and need to turn our heads to the race to maintain that pace.

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Press Office:


Yoshimura Suzuki – 5th

S-Pulse – 9th

TK SUZUKI – 15th

SERT – 17th

Moto-Map – 18th (Top SST)

The 42nd Suzuka Eight Hour Endurance Race, the finale of the 2018-2019 Endurance World Championship kicked off today in Japan with Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing taking fifth position.

Fifteen times EWC Champions Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) took 17th, and will miss tomorrow’s Top-10 Trial, but are well positioned for Sunday’s race.

Following the joint test sat the circuit in mid-July, that was unexpectedly cool and difficult to estimate the situation of the actual race week temperatures, the second official joint testing was set on Wednesday and Thursday due to cost matters and making the situation fair for the overseas teams. This meant that the teams carried out their tests and then went straight into the race week and onto the qualifying sessions today. The downside was that typhoon #6 which appeared somewhat suddenly brought unpredictable weather to the Friday sessions; and also threatens tomorrow’s action.

Many rides crashed out in the two-hour free practice session which took place in the morning, resulting in multiple red flags. Amongst these riders was #95 S-PULSE DREAM RACING·IAI(S-PULSE)rider Hideyuki Ogata, and the spill forced him out of the race.

The weather improved towards lunchtime and by the start of the first qualifying session at 11:50hrs, the course was dry and ready for action.

Two 20-minute time attack sessions were carried out for each rider, and the average of the top times of Rider Blue (first rider), Rider Yellow (second rider) and Rider Red (third rider) became the result for the grid.

The first round of qualifying sessions started off with track temperatures at 54 degrees, but although in dry conditions, many riders suffered crashes, resulting in more red flags. Not being able to get a clear lap is common for the Suzuka race and this was the case again today.

Under these difficult circumstances, all YOSHIMURA SUZUKI MOTUL RACING (Yoshimura) riders clocked in 2-minute 7-second laps and put the team in an impressive fifth position.

Missing a rider (Ogata), S-PULSE challenged the sessions with the remaining two riders. Tommy Bridewell suffered a minor spill, but the team took ninth position. TK SUZUKI BLUE MAX (TK SUZUKI) followed in 14th with SERT in 15th. Motomap topped the SST class in an overall 18th.

The second round of qualifying sessions began at 15:40 in slightly better conditions of 33 degrees and a track temperature of 45 degrees. Motomap took advantage of this condition and two of the riders clocked 2-minute 8-second laps, boosting their overall position to 16th while remaining leader of the SST class. Under strict SST class regulations, the Motomap GSX-R is almost fully standard, and this surprising result proved the potential of the machine.

Final results were two Suzuki teams in the top 10; Yoshimura fifth, S-PULSE ninth, both who will compete in the Top-10 trial tomorrow. Other Suzuki teams followed in 15th – TK SUZUKI, 16th – Moto-Map and SERT in 17th.


Rider Blue – Sylvain Guintoli:

“I clocked 2-minute 7-second laps with new tyres on the first session and felt confident using used tyres in the second session. Both sessions and tyres felt good. My team mates are not the same as last year but we all have good lap-times, so I think we are in good shape for the race.”

Rider Yellow – Yukio Kagayama:

“Unpredictable weather made me decide to go out on new tyres on the first session and get a good lap while it was still dry. However, I wasn’t able to get a clear lap and lost precious time in the heavy traffic. Sometimes you just can’t help it with so many riders out on the course at the same time, but I feel I could have done better. The setup of the bike is good but if can be more consistent with used tyres it would be better. There will be many back markers also in the race, but I consider myself quite good at dealing with these situations and I hope that skill will contribute to the result of the team. I’m in a situation this year where I can concentrate strictly on riding, so I’m thoroughly enjoying the Suzuka Eight Hours so far.”

Rider Red – Kazuki Watanabe:

“We considered the first session to be the one to go for due to the weather; however, I wasn’t successful. Luckily the second session was also dry, and the result was better. I would have liked better lap times but it’s hard to push with so many rides out there. I’s always nice to start in front but with eight hours ahead of us, I don’t think it matters too much. All three riders have a good average pace, so we are strong and ready to fight this tough race.”

Yohei Kato – Team Manager:

“We have spent a lot of effort and time to stay focused and not take any unnecessary detours in our process. That’s always how we do it at Yoshimura, but I think we were especially careful about it this year. There are areas I think could still be improved but as a total we are ready for the race. Challenging the mighty factory teams is tough but with the Yoshimura spirit, we intend to finish this year’s edition as close to the top as possible.”

#2 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team:

Rider Blue – Vincent Philippe:

“Looking at the overall qualifying position and lap times, I must say I’m not pleased with this result. But we hadn’t used the qualifying tyres so we can’t help that. The bright side is that race lap-times are positive, and we feel we have made a big step up this year so we’re happy about that. We intend to fight it through to the end and hope for the championship crown.”

Rider Yellow – Etienne Masson:

“Thanks to so much testing, the bikes at a different level to what it was last year. I admit the result of the qualifying wasn’t too good, but this is all within plans to be successful in the race. All riders have a consistent pace so I am sure the result will be quite different from the qualifying.”

Rider Red – Gregg Black:

“Yesterday wasn’t such a good day for the team, since I fell twice, but today was better and we were able to set up the bike successfully. Lap times could have been better, but many other teams used qualifying tyres while we concentrated on the actual race set up rather than one-off fast laps. I feel confident and hope to finish the race within the top 10, at least!”

Dominique Meliand – Team Manager:

“We have ridden today in race configuration, without qualifying tyres used by some of our competitors. Considering this, we are rather satisfied of our result. But the important thing was to well prepare the bike in order to get the best result in race. The title will be disputed closely, and we have the means to make the difference!”


Rider Yellow – Tommy Bridewell:

“We were all surprised with Ogata’s crash in the practice session but are glad he’s OK. I was on a confident flying lap on the first session, when I fell at the chicane just before I completed the lap which was a pity. On the second session I was on used tyres but was still able to clock good laps so that was encouraging. We’ve managed to make progress from yesterday and we are in a good mood to race.”

Rider Red – Bradley Ray:

“I found that the bike is very much like the Yoshimura machine I rode last year, but it still took me some time to get used to. I feel we’re getting better step-by-step so I’m sure I’ll feel more comfortable by the time the race starts. I’s a shame Ogata can’t race with us, but Tommy and I will do our best and hope for a good result.”

Shiro Yoshida – Team Manager:

“It’s a pity Ogata was injured and will not be able to race but we’re all happy it wasn’t too serious. The remaining riders rode hard in the qualifying and am sure they will do so again tomorrow in the top-10 trial which we are not sure will happen due to the approaching typhoon. But the two riders from UK are used to harsh conditions so I can sit back and watch them in peace whatever the conditions are. If we can do better than last year, that will be great.”


Rider Blue – Gregory LeBlanc:

“It’s an honour to ride for Kagayama-san’s team. I’ve ridden many GSX-Rs, but I could have done with a little more time to get used to this one. Suzuka 8 Hours is full of fast riders and bikes, so it’ll be difficult to get good results, but we have a good rhythm, so I hope to finish in the top seven.”

Rider Yellow – Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman:

“I was signed on to Kagayama-san’s team at the last minute, so it’s been a tough week so far. It was also the first time I rode the GSX-R so that has taken some time to get used to as well. However, the feeling is getting better step-by-step, and although I wasn’t able to put in super lap times at the qualifying, I feel confident about the race.”

Rider Red – Takuya Tsuda:

“The set-up was successful, so I decided to go out on new tyres for a flying lap, but just then we found a fault in the bike and were not able to proceed. It was a pity in both senses that I wasn’t able to put in a reasonable lap time and we couldn’t proceed on the set-up. However, Gregg had some good laps and we hope for a good result with a bit of corporation between the riders.”

Masahiko Saito – Team Manager:

“I apologise to Tsuda and Azlan for having a fault in the bike. They could have put in much better laps and it was a shame we as a team were not able to provide them with the opportunity. We will be sure it won’t happen in the race and will do our best to support all the riders to ride at their maximum.”

#9 Motomap S.W.A.T:

Rider Blue – Josh Waters:

“I didn’t expect to reach an 8 second lap on a stock machine. I was surprised when I saw the time sheet with big teams in lower positions than us. This result is rewarding but we shouldn’t get too excited and focus on the race now. If we can lap constantly without mistakes, I feel sure we’ll have a good result.”

Rider Yellow – Dan Linfoot:

“To reach an 8 second lap on a stock machine was amazing. This result proves how good the GSX-R is even in stock condition. This time was achieved with qualifying tyres so we won’t be doing this sort of times during the race, but if we can maintain 10 to12 second laps, a top-10 finish could be realistic. I’m looking forward to the race.”

Rider Red – Nobuatsu Aoki:

“My two team mates were amazing and they helped me out a lot. An eight second lap! I was surprised! I also switched to race mode but an endurance race mode, so I tried to maintain constant lap times. An aim for our team was a top-10 finish on a SST bike but we didn’t think it was realistic until today’s result. Now this aim looks like it could happen, we’ll try to keep cool and manage the race carefully to the goal.” 

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