Joint Test Day 1
EWC 2023
Round 3

Tetsuta Nagashima Back from Injury Fastest at Suzuka 8 Hours Joint Test Day 1

jp Suzuka Circuit

On July 5, Day 1 of joint tests for the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship "Coca-Cola" Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race 44th Tournament (Suzuka 8 Hours) was held at the Suzuka Circuit.

Tetsuta Nagashima Back from Injury Fastest at Suzuka 8 Hours Joint Test Day 1

Last year, Team HRC's Tetsuta Nagashima, Takumi Takahashi, and Iker Lecuona achieved Honda's first Suzuka 8 Hours victory in eight years. This season, the team will be aiming to defend the title with Superbike World Championship (WSBK) riders Lecuona and Xavi Vierge, and All Japan Road Race Championship (JRR) ST1000 class rider Takahashi. In addition to these riders, Tetsuta Nagashima, who contributed to last year's victory, participated in today’s test, bringing the total number of riders in the pit to four.

Last year's EWC champions, F.C.C. TSR Honda France, had all three of their regular riders, Josh Hook, Mike Di Meglio, and Alan Techer, participate in the tests.

SDG Honda Racing was represented in today’s test by JRR JSB1000 class rider Teppei Nagoe, Yuki Kunii, who started competition in the ST1000 class this season, and Spanish Superbike Championship (ESBK) rider Naomichi Uramoto. Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA was represented by Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) ASB1000 riders Md Zaqhwan Bin Zaidi and Andi Farid Izdihar, and ARRC Supersport 600 class rider Nakarin Atiratphuvapat.

The participating 47 bikes were divided into groups A and B. Each group was allocated their own 45-minute Session 1 in the morning, followed by a 45-minute Session 2 in the afternoon, and a 75-minute Session 3. Each group also participated in a 70-minute night session.

Although Session 1 ran under dry conditions, rain began to fall in Session 2, and Session 3 was completely wet. With rain continuing during the night session, only 12 teams participated, many of which soon returned to the pits after only a few laps.

Team HRC’s shakedown for the Suzuka 8 Hours was also aimed at confirming Nagashima’s recovery from injury. Each of the other three riders were also allotted track time in dry conditions, setting lap times. For the wet sessions, the Japanese riders were more familiar with the particular track conditions, so track time was allocated to the Lecuona and Vierge instead. Due to heavy rainfall, the team did not go out on track for the night session. Despite the short time they were able to run in the dry, Team HRC riders were highly impressive.

In Session 1, Nagashima set the fastest lap of 2 min 06.258s, followed by Lecuona second-fastest with 2 min 07.619s. Takahashi and Vjerge both lapped in the 2:08 range during their short time on track, showing their competitiveness. Third-fastest was Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing (Kosuke Sakumoto / Ryo Mizuno / Kazuma Watanabe) with 2 min 07.730s. F.C.C. TSR Honda France was sixth with a 2 min 08.325s lap, followed by SDG Honda France in 10th with 2 min 08.325s. Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA was 19th-fastest with a time of 2 min 10.006s.

Team HRC was fastest yet again in Session 2. In Session 3, in wet conditions, Honda Dream RT SAKURAI Honda (Kazuki Ito / Daijiro Hiura / Kouta Arakawa) set the top time of 2 min 22.451s. Team HRC was fourth-fastest for the session.

Takumi Takahashi
Takumi Takahashi 33
Team HRC
I only did seven or eight laps today, and in terms of real riding feel, about five laps. We planned to break-in the bike and do some solid laps in Session 3, but it turned out to be raining. Since many Japanese riders have experience with Suzuka Circuit in the rain, our two overseas teammates rode the wet sessions instead. Tomorrow we’re planning to check everything we couldn’t today, before going on long runs in preparation for the race.

Iker Lecuona
Iker Lecuona 33
Team HRC
I am really happy to ride at Suzuka again. In the morning, I was able to record a 2 min 07.6s lap in the dry. In the afternoon, we ran in the rain, and I was able to check the rain condition, so I think it was a good test. The weather will improve tomorrow, so I hope to improve my lap time a little more and do some long runs to meet my target average.

Xavi Vierge
Xavi Vierge 33
Team HRC
Like Iker, I am happy to be back in Suzuka. We’re on a different tire manufacturer to WSBK, so that’s what I focused on. I am feeling positive because I was able to experience both dry and wet conditions, but I only did three laps in the dry, so I hope to do more tomorrow. I will ride hard aiming for my target average times.

Tetsuta Nagashima
Tetsuta Nagashima 33
Team HRC
This was my first time since my injury, so I rode to see how well I’ve recovered. I prepared to show that I could ride well here, so I was able to do 2 min 06.2s at the start of my run. I could have done better if I wanted, but it wasn’t a hot lap, so I could confirm my riding was ok. My aim for tomorrow is showing that I’m race-fit.

Teppei Nagoe
Teppei Nagoe 73
SDG Honda Racing
I think today we were able to keep the good momentum from the previous test. The bike feels good, and it is solid. Of course, conditions including the temperature will change during the race, so we have to keep that in mind while testing, but I feel we are making good progress. All three of our team riders have similar race pace, and it is a well-balanced team. Tomorrow, we will compile data and try to set the bike up so all three of us can ride easily and smoothly.

Yuki Kunii
Yuki Kunii 73
SDG Honda Racing
In the June tests it was only Nagoe and myself, so I am glad that all three of us were able to test together this time. Rain in the afternoon messed up our schedule, but I am glad that all three of us were able to share the same good feeling from the previous test. Tomorrow we’ll work on what we missed today. The three of us are very close, so even though I am the youngest rider, I don’t feel any pressure, and can concentrate on racing.

Naomichi Uramoto
Naomichi Uramoto 73
SDG Honda Racing
I started today hoping to set  2 min 07s. laps, but I couldn't get there. I am a bit disappointed, but I’m getting there. The atmosphere in the team is really good, and I think we can improve from here. Tomorrow will be dry and I hope to push hard. I hope that tomorrow's test will prepare us well for the 8 Hours.

Josh Hook
Josh Hook 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
I've raced on the same car for the past year, so I know how it feels and how it should run. The chassis, tires, everything is all working well. The key to success in the 8 hours is consistency. First you have to be fast, and then you have to be consistent. All three of us are similarly built, we all like to ride bikes, and we’re good. It is important to have a bike setup that all three of us can work with. Alan, Mike, and I can do that, so I'm not worried. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Mike Di Meglio
Mike Di Meglio 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
It is great to be back in Suzuka. The resurfacing of the corners (Turn 2 exit) was especially good. The bike is looking good, but at this point it’s still not perfect. So we need to focus on race pace and find a fast setting that will satisfy all three riders before the race.

Alan Techer
Alan Techer 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
First of all, I am very happy to be back here after four years, and I’m really enjoying Suzuka. I really enjoyed the course and the bike. But I’ve forgotten a few things, so I need to make some corrections.

Makoto Tamada
Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA
We have been working with a new engines for this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours, and we wanted to decide which engine and chassis to use, but the rain prevented that. Even so, I believe that Zaqhwan and Andi will be able to race at a fast pace that we’ve never seen before. Nakarin is  new to EWC bikes, but I don’t think he will have any problems as he usually races in the ST1000 class in Thailand. He has not had enough testing time though, so we will give him more track time to gain more experience. We will work hard on setting the bike up for the race.

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