2015 Suzuka 8 Hours Qualifying Results
Yamaha’s first factory effort at the Suzuka 8 Hours since 2002 – aptly named Yamaha Factory Racing – continued its blistering pace Saturday at the Japanese circuit.
The three-rider team consisting of Katsuyuki Nakasuga, and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP teammates Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith, earned top honors in 2015 Suzuki 8 Hours Qualifying.
The Yamaha Factory Racing team, which also topped practice, earned the pole for the 38th Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours with a 2:06 lap aboard the 2015 YZF-R1. Joining the Yamaha Factory Racing team on the front row for Sunday’s Suzuka 8 Hours – round two of the FIM Endurance World Championship – is Team Green Kawasaki and the reigning Suzuka 8 Hours Champion, Musashi RT HARC-Pro Honda.
Under sweltering conditions, Espargaró was the first YFTR rider to hit the clear track and set a hot lap. The Spaniard pushed to the absolute limit, using all his MotoGP experience to set a stunning 2:06 lap for provisional pole, which at the time was 1.697 seconds faster than anyone so far, Yamaha reports.
Then it was local Yamaha hero Nakasuga’s turn to step aboard the YZF-R1. The experienced Japanese rider rode smoothly and aggressively through the twisty section, taking full advantage of the performance of Yamaha’s class leading Superbike to finish with an impressive lap just 0.059 seconds off his teammate, Yamaha reports.
As none of the competitors were able to drop under the 2:06.2 mark, Espargaró’s incredible 2:06.000 becomes the new Endurance fastest lap at Suzuka, more than six-tenths of a second faster than the previous Endurance Pole Record.
2015 Suzuka 8 Hours Qualifying Results – Yamaha Factory Racing rider quotes
Katsuyuki Nakasuga: “I’m really happy, but at the same time I wish my lap time had been faster. I’m very happy for my teammate [Espargaro], he did so well, but I wished I could have gone faster too, but I did my best. I’m not satisfied that Pol was faster than me, I tried to beat his time but I couldn’t and that was unfortunate for me, but this is a good result for tomorrow and we are all going to try to do our best. I learned a lot today and I will use the experience I gained today, and perhaps tomorrow, in the Japan Championship, which I race in.”
Pol Espargaró: “I feel very happy, because this was a challenge for me and I did not expect this result. We did just one test with Bradley and Nakasuga in the preseason on the dry and we didn’t ride a lot on this track. Bradley was also fast this weekend, his pace was very similar and the same with Nakasuga, he was also very fast. Tomorrow we have the big show and it will be difficult, because anything can happen, but we are confident. When I saw my lap time I was a bit surprised because I never tested the softer rear tyre during the tests or this weekend and I never rode in Superpole before with only one lap. Here today we had just one shot and in your mind you’re always checking the lap and thinking of where you could improve something.
“Maybe I could have improved in the last sector, because I relaxed a little bit and was wary of making a mistake in the chicane. When I saw the time I said “come on!”, because it would be difficult for someone to beat it, but when I saw the lap time of Nakasuga-san I was a bit scared, he was also very fast, but I was lucky that I was fast in T1 and this gave me a chance, but Nagasuga was very strong in T4 and I was worried again. I’m happy because I did a good lap time, but Nakasuga was also under the record and Bradley showed good potential over the whole weekend. Our pace is really similar and this is more important than the pole.”
Bradley Smith: “First of all a big congratulations to my teammate, at the end of the day our team management made the right call with who they choose for the Superpole, both guys were riding extremely fast. I’m happy to be starting the race from first position tomorrow for the team, but it’s a bit different to do one lap compared to more than 200 in tomorrow’s race. I hope we get a good night sleep, calm down from the excitement and be ready to do it all again tomorrow.”
2015 Suzuka 8 Hours Qualifying Results:
1. YAMAHA FACTORY RACING TEAM – Yamaha – 2’06.000
2. TeamGREEN – Kawasaki – 2’06.287
3. MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO – Honda – 2’06.335
4. YOSHIMURA SUZUKI Shell ADVANCE – Suzuki – 2’06.516
5. Team KAGAYAMA – Suzuki – 2’07.990
6. F.C.C. TSR Honda – Honda – 2’08.076
7. TOHO Racing with MORIWAKI – Honda – 2’08.382
8. EVA RT TEST TYPE-01 TRICK STAR – Kawasaki – 2’08.950
9. Honda DREAM RT SAKURAI HONDA – Honda – 2’09.409
10. MotoMap SUPPLY – Suzuki – 2’11.019