World Endurance: YART Yamaha Tests At Suzuka

World Endurance: YART Yamaha Tests At Suzuka

© 2024, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Yamaha Motor Europe:

YART Yamaha Complete Successful Pre-Event Test for Suzuka 8 Hours

The Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team of Niccolò Canepa, Karel Hanika, and Marvin Fritz enjoyed a productive two-day Pre-Event test in Japan, with all three riders lapping in the 2:05s ahead of the 45th “Coca-Cola” Suzuka 8 Hours that will take place on the 18-21st of July.

The Yamalube YART Yamaha squad will be Yamaha Motor’s top team at the event, and the staff members and riders arrived in Japan on Monday, June 17th, to get themselves acclimated to the time difference and get ready to ride. In the days leading up to the test, heavy rain fell in many parts of Japan, but on Wednesday morning, clear and sunny skies greeted the defending FIM Endurance World Champions as they arrived at Suzuka Circuit.

In the first session, YART rode in Group B, showing off their R1, which featured a special Suzuka 8 Hours livery with a “YAMALUBE” logo design, denoting Yamaha Motor’s brand of genuine motor oils and chemicals to Japanese fans and media for the first time.

Looking at the combined times for Session 1 from Group A and Group B, Team HRC (that includes MotoGP rider Johann Zarco) held the top two quickest lap times with a 2’06.867 and a 2’07.097. Behind them was YART, who were still working on getting re-acclimated to Suzuka Circuit as it was the first time they had ridden the track since last year’s race. They quickly got down to speed, though, with times in the 2’08s for most of their laps, and in the end, they finished the session having set a 2’07.299 and 2’07.626 to finish in third and fourth overall.
In the second session of the day, Ducati Team KAGAYAMA were fastest, having set a 2’06.634, with YART in second with a 2’07.049. The third session of the day saw YART set a 2’07.495 to finish in fourth, while in the final night session, Canepa clocked the fastest time of the entire day with a 2’06.381 to make YART’s rivals fully aware of their presence.

On day two of the test, cloudy skies brought relatively milder temperatures than on Wednesday, which allowed teams to improve their times, and the Austrian squad was no exception. The team focused on longer runs before switching to time attack mode to prepare for qualifying practice at the main event, during which they bettered their fastest times for the test.
On Thursday, Session 5 began at 9:30 am and was followed by Session 6 at 2:00 pm, with both lasting 80 minutes in total, and the longer session times allowed for race simulations to be made. Once these were complete in Session 5, Canepa and Fritz both went out with fresh tyres and pushed for fast lap times, with both eventually setting consecutive laps in the 2’06 range, with fastest times of 2’06.137 and 2’06.198 respectively, improving on Canepa’s best time from Wednesday.

Although single lap times are not as important in endurance races like the 8 Hours, the team finished one-two in front of rivals Ducati Team KAGAYAMA, Yoshimura SERT Motul and Team HRC in the session. YART’s race pace was consistently in the 2’07 range, which demonstrated the level to which the team is already performing in the lead-up to the race.

In the final session, Ducati Team KAGAYAMA set a 2’05.162 to top the timesheets, which would go on to be the fastest lap of the test. YART spent most of the time working on longer race simulations, but once again, at the end of the session, fresh tyres were put on the R1s, and the riders went out to work on single-lap pace to prepare for qualifying. They could not quite match their rivals’ times, but all three YART riders set laps in the 2’05.6-7 range. Those times were on par with qualifying times from last year’s 8 Hours, confirming that everything within the team is proceeding well and according to plan ahead of the historic race in July.

Karel Hanika

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“It was my first time back at Suzuka after a year, so the first thing I did was try to get the feeling back. The weather and track conditions were different from last year, but I already knew the track layout well, so I was able to set some fast lap times right from the start. I’m happy to be here because I like the Suzuka Circuit a lot, so I’m looking forward to the race. On the second day, we worked on the geometry, suspension and electronics a little bit each, and we found something positive compared to Wednesday. We worked on track to help each other with our riding, so overall, the test was good. We have a few small things to improve, but they are not major, and all three of us are fast. We know our rivals will be strong, but when we did long runs today, we were very competitive. We tried out some different tyres and saw, which worked well for the end of the stint, so I feel like we’ve done everything we needed to do in this test, and we’re ready for the race weekend. There are still some small things to improve, of course. In the month until the race, I’ll train like I normally do, but I know the 8 Hours will be hot like always, and luckily, it’s also getting hot where I live, so I’ll work on doing cardio outdoors in the heat to be in the best physical condition.”

Niccolò Canepa

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“The first day was all about getting back up to speed at Suzuka, and I think we did that very quickly in the first session. We completed the testing plan we had for the day, and took all the comments from us three riders, and we’ll use those to make some small changes to the bike for tomorrow. My two teammates both did long runs, though I didn’t, and checked fuel consumption, which looked good. I set our fastest time on Wednesday, and I think it was because today is one of the coolest days I’ve ridden at Suzuka, so the conditions were perfect, which helped. I also had new tyres on, so when I pushed, we were able to set a fast time, though still not a perfect lap and not as fast as qualifying times. Everything went so well on Wednesday that we didn’t have much to do on the second day. Still, we worked a bit on the geometry, suspension and electronics. Compared to the other teams, I think we did an excellent job over the two days. We weren’t trying so hard to set a qualifying lap time, but we worked more on our race pace, and in the long runs we did, that pace was very good. At the end of the final session, we put on new tyres and tried a time attack. All three of us were very fast, which is great because that’s the goal of our team, for all three to be on the same level. I’ll do some training to prepare for the 8 Hours, but mostly, I need to focus on recovering my injured shoulder. Between competing at Spa and doing some WorldSBK testing, I have put a lot of stress on it, so now I need to do some physiotherapy, rest and recover.”

Marvin Fritz

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“My first lap on track was a 2’07.6, so we were already at a fast pace right from the start. We mostly focused on our race pace on Wednesday. From all the years I’ve raced Suzuka, I think on the first day, I had my fastest average race pace ever. My teammates were also very fast, so we made a good start to the test. We didn’t have any issues, and the bike is working well, but there are still some small points we can improve on. On the second day, we focused on some small things, mostly the riding position, electronics and front suspension. We did some long runs to check our fuel consumption and, after that, did a time attack, where I was able to set a personal best here at Suzuka of 2’05.6. We can still improve some things, but overall, I’m happy. Of course, our rivals also set fast times over the test, but we can still go even faster, so I’m not too worried. Overall, I think we gained a lot of confidence for the race. To get ready, I’ll train even harder than usual.”

Mandy Kainz

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team – Team Manager

”In the test, we had no mistakes, no problems at all, so if the actual race weekend is this trouble-free, we’d be very happy. The bike, the tyres, the riders and the mechanics all did their jobs perfectly. So perfectly that it’s almost scary! We were trying to work on race pace, and on average, our lap times are one second faster than last year’s, so we’re satisfied with this. I think the test overall has given the riders more confidence. If we can do exactly the same thing in three weeks, we’ll have very good results at the 8 Hours. I would say we’re ready to race right now, as we are, but we need the time for Niccolò to recover his shoulder.”

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