TOP 10 Qualifying
EWC 2022
Round 3

Nagashima’s 2min 4.934 lap gives Honda first Suzuka 8 Hours Pole since 2009

jp Suzuka Circuit

Prior to the Top 10 Trial to determine the final grid for the 2022 Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race (Suzuka 8 Hours), the Suzuka 4 Hours Endurance Race and a Suzuka 8 Hours free practice session was held the in the morning.

Nagashima’s 2min 4.934 lap gives Honda first Suzuka 8 Hours Pole since 2009

The free practice session was halted immediately after it began, and once restarted, #33 Team HRC (Tetsuta Nagashima / Takumi Takahashi / Iker Lecuona) rider Lecuona and another rider came in contact at the first turn, sending him off track and back into the pits. Soon after, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) slid off at the motorcycle chicane, bringing the session to a halt once again. On the second restart, Nagashima (#33) enters the track, but ♯5 F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Josh Hook / Gino Rea / Mike Di Meglio) rider Gino Rea crashed at the chicane and was airlifted to hospital. Updates on his condition will be communicated as appropriate.

The ten fastest qualifying teams proceeded to the Top 10 Trial shootout to determine the final grid places, where two riders from each team get one lap each to set their lap times. Going into the Top 10 Trial, ♯33 Team HRC was first, ♯17 Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing (Kosuke Sakumoto / Kazuma Watanabe / Taiga Hada) fourth, ♯5 F.C.C. TSR Honda France fifth, ♯72 Honda Dream RT SAKURAI HONDA (Sodo Hamahara / Daijiro Hiura / Yuki Kunii) seventh, and ♯25 Honda Sofukai Suzuka Racing Team (Yudai Kamei / Yuki Sugiyama / Jun Tadokoro) was ninth. Each team chose their two riders for the Top 10 Trial.

Just before the Top 10 Trial was to commence, the organisers changed the Top 10 Trial to a 40-minute Top 10 timed qualifier beginning at 4pm due to weather concerns. Any team rider could ride within this session, and the fastest laps would determine the final grid. The air temperature was 28℃ and track temperature 36℃. Nagashima (#33) was on the track as soon as the session started.

On his second lap, Nagashima set a 2 min 4.936s lap to take the provisional lead, and pits. Lecuona (#33) takes over the bike and is on the track. As Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) closes in on the lead with a 2 min 5.413s lap, Lecuona sets a 2 min 6 lap and pits. Takahashi (#33) then takes over the bike, and also sets a 2 min 6s lap.

Later in the session, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) on new tires sets a 2 min 5.148 s lap, but cannot better Nagashima, and has to settle for second grid. #7 Yart-Yamaha Official Team EWC was third with 2 min 5.768 s, followed by Hook with 2 min 6.204 s. In fifth place was ♯73 SDG Honda Racing, and despite Hamahara attempting a hot lap as the session ended, ♯5 F.C.C. TSR Honda France qualified sixth. ♯17 Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing was seventh, and ♯25 Honda Sofukai Suzuka Racing eighth.

Team HRC’s pole position gave Honda its first Suzuka 8 Hours pole since 2009.

Tetsuta Nagashima
Tetsuta Nagashima 33
Team HRC
I’m simply happy that we got pole position. I was aiming to set a 2 min 4s lap in the Top 10 Trial which is unique to Suzuka 8 Hours, so I’m disappointed it was changed to a normal qualifying session, but I pushed hard as if it was a Top 10 Trial. I’m satisfied that I could set a 2 min 4s lap. Being on pole position is huge, so we’ll show everyone that a strong Honda is back.

Takumi Takahashi
Takumi Takahashi 33
Team HRC
I’m very glad because this is the first time I’m starting the Suzuka 8 Hours from pole position. I think the fans are disappointed that they couldn’t see a Top 10 Trial despite this being the first Suzuka 8 Hours in three years, but Nagashima was amazing in the Top 10 qualifying session. He set a stunning lap time, so I could relax and pace myself as if it was the race itself. I believe that as long as all three riders play their part, the results will follow, so we’re aiming to win.

Iker Lecuona
Iker Lecuona 33
Team HRC
I’m glad we’re on pole. Nagashima is always fast and sets great lap times, but 2 min 4s is an amazingly fast lap time. I was finally on a dry track, and set a 2 min 6s lap. I hope the weather is good for the race, and we’re aiming to win.

Josh Hook
Josh Hook 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
Yesterday’s Qualifying went well even in tricky conditions, for Mike’s session anyway. Weather conditions for my session were not bad. With all three riders combined, we managed to get into the Top 10 Trial, which was changed to an ordinary qualifying session, so the team decided that I would ride the whole session. I tried to get results that reflected my pace, so I’m satisfied. In the end, the lap times for our package were pretty good, and qualifying fourth gives us two bonus championship points. I think we’re off to a good start. Tomorrow, we’ll just do our jobs. Everyone knows what they have to do during the race, and we’re all looking forward to it. We’ll follow our plan, and have a good race. It will be tough, because it’s Mike and myself racing.

Mike Di Meglio
Mike Di Meglio 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
Conditions for my Qualifying sessions were mixed, so I managed to get results in Q1, and there was no need to do so in Q2. There’s no point taking risks when it’s raining. Unfortunately Gino had a big crash in the session before the final qualifying session, but Josh still did a great job, and we’re starting fourth. We gained two championship points, which is really good. Tomorrow will be a tough and important race, so I hope it won’t be too hot.

Masakazu Fujii
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
This is the first time I have mixed feelings after the Suzuka 8 Hours qualifying is over. We had to battle on after Gino had a big crash during free practice before Qualifying, was air-lifted to the hospital, and we had no way of knowing how he was. We’re praying for him, and will do anything we can. Considering the circumstances, the team did a great job, and Josh getting us fourth on the grid was an amazing effort. I would like to let Gino know as well. We’ll do our best tomorrow.

Teppei Nagoe
Teppei Nagoe 73
SDG Honda Racing
I’ve never been in a Top 10 Trial, and I was looking forward to it, so I’m disappointed it was changed. In Qualifying yesterday, my lap time was the result of being pulled along by the other riders, but today I managed to set a 2 min 6s lap on my own, so I think it is a positive result of this week’s work. I think the average time of our three riders is very fast, so we’ll ride steady, and I do my best in my stints, a podium finish is a real possibility. I’ll do my best to make it a reality.

Naomichi Uramoto
Naomichi Uramoto 73
SDG Honda Racing
I think I could have been a bit faster, but considering that I didn’t really get a chance yesterday, and we have qualified fifth with a lap time not too far from the top, I think it is a good result for the team. All three riders have had good pace all week, so as long as we stay calm and do our jobs, the results will follow. Anything can happen during the eight hours, so we’ll work as a team, trust each other, and aim to finish the race.

Ikuhiro Enokido
Ikuhiro Enokido 73
SDG Honda Racing
We planned for Nagoe and Tsukamoto to go into the Top 10 Trial. Despite the change to a normal Top 10 qualifying session, they set times close to the best laps. We were eighth yesterday, but today we’re up three positions. We’re aiming to finish higher in the race. This is my first Suzuka 8 Hours, and I have dreamed about racing in it. I’m going to take care on the track, and put in a solid performance.

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