Test Session 5
EWC 2023
Round 3

Team HRC with Japan Post Sets 2 Min 7s Lap in Stint-length Test

jp Suzuka Circuit

Race week has arrives for the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race (Suzuka 8 Hours), a midsummer festivity for Japan’s two-wheeler fans. All 50 teams participated in the test day on August 2, under harsh and hot conditions.

Team HRC with Japan Post Sets 2 Min 7s Lap in Stint-length Test

Five test sessions were held, a 90-minute and a 75-minute session in the morning, followed by three sessions in the afternoon, 60 minutes, 90 minutes and 90 minutes long. As the track is not available for testing on August 3, the teams were busy putting the finishing touches on their bikes in preparation for Qualifying on Friday, the Top 10 Trial on Saturday, leading up to the race on Sunday.

HRC's factory team, Team HRC with Japan Post’s riders Tetsuta Nagashima, Takumi Takahashi and Xavi Vierge were all on scene. F.C.C. TSR Honda France, participating in the full Endurance World Championship (EWC) series, had planned to race with their regular riders Josh Hook, Mike Di Meglio, and Alan Techer, but Hook was injured during training. Team Principal Masakazu Fujii cancelled Hook's participation in the Suzuka 8 Hours, saying, "He will concentrate on treatment for his injury in preparation for the final EWC race in Bol d'Or.”

HRC’s reserve rider Tarran Mackenzie, will fill in for Hook, and began testing with the team today.

SDG Honda Racing, its parent company being HARC-PRO., a successful team at the Suzuka 8 Hours, participated in today’s tests with its team riders Teppei Nagoe, Naomichi Uramoto, and Haruki Noguchi replacing injured Yuki Kunii.

Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA’s regular riders Md Zaqhwan Bin Zaidi, Andi Farid Izdihar, and Nakarin Atiratphuvapat participated in today’s tests.

In the two morning sessions, YART - Yamaha Official Team EWC (Yamaha) was the sole team to set a 2 min 7s pace, one second faster than the other teams. Second fastest was Team HRC with Japan Post, third was F.C.C. TSR Honda France, followed by Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing fourth, Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA fifth, and Honda Dream RT SAKURAI HONDA seventh. Five Honda teams were in the top 10.

In the three afternoon sessions, YART - Yamaha Official Team EWC (Yamaha) set the top time 2 min 6.778s. Second fastest was Team HRC with Japan Post at 2 min 7.205s. Yoshimura SERT Motul (Suzuki) was third fastest, ahead of BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team (BMW) fourth, all within the 2 min 7s range.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France was fifth fastest with 2 min 8.221s, Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing was seventh with 2 min 8.446, and SDG Honda Racing was tenth with 2 min 8.701s.

Team HRC with Japan Post devoted a fair amount of its track time to help Vierge transition smoothly to the endurance bike following his participation in the Superbike World Championship (WSBK) last weekend. Takahashi had the most time on track in the morning sessions, with a few laps at the end of the afternoon sessions to confirm the final setup. Nagashima, on track during Session 3 to check the bike setup, set the team’s best lap time of 2 min 7.205s. Takahashi’s best lap was 2 min 8.060s, and Vierge’s best lap was 2 min 7.774s.

Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA's Izdihar crashed, needing stitches behind his left ear, ending his participation in the tests prematurely, but he has been cleared to participate in Qualifying. Team Principal Makoto Tamada commented, "All three drivers were able to do stint-length runs today, and we were able to check their fuel consumption. Nakarin, in his first Suzuka 8 Hours, has also been improving his times, so we were able to have a good test.”

F.C.C. TSR Honda France and SDG Honda Racing, both with last-minute rider replacements, finished the day’s tests with solid performances.

Takumi Takahashi
Takumi Takahashi 33
Team HRC with Japan Post
I feel relieved now that Tetsuta has joined us. If we had two WSBK riders instead of Tetsuta, I would have felt a lot of responsibility to perform strong, since I have a lot of experience in Suzuka 8 Hours, so I’m relieved. In the morning sessions, I was able to do the laps needed for tire selection, checked the data, and narrowed down my choices. Thanks to this test, I think we were better prepared for the race. In terms of lap times, 2 min 8s flat was the best I could do, but I didn't do a hot lap, so I'm not too concerned. It was a good test that gave us time to prepare well!

Tetsuta Nagashima
Tetsuta Nagashima 33
Team HRC with Japan Post
I have been working hard to recover from my injuries in preparation for the Suzuka 8 Hours, so I am honestly happy that I have been selected to participate in the race and am now able to ride like this. I cannot say that I am 100% recovered from my injury, but I am at 60-70%, and there are no problems with my riding. If there was a problem, I would not be here, so I am fine, even though I was a bit worried. In today's tests, I was only on track for one session, but I was able to maintain 2 min 7s laps while the track temperature was high. We were able to check the bike and I think I was able to ride smoothly. Looking at our rivals, I think our team is the most consistent. We’ll continue to maintain our good form through qualifying and the race.

Xavi Vierge
Xavi Vierge 33
Team HRC with Japan Post
Since I was switching from a WSBK bike to an endurance bike, I did some basic checks and verified my riding in dry conditions. I was also able to do some long tests. Since this is an endurance race, I’m not too particular about the lap times, but I was able to average 2 minutes and 7s. I am in good shape, and I’m comfortable changing bikes without any problems, even though the tires I’m on are Bridgestones instead of the Pirellis in WSBK. Last year I was just watching the Suzuka 8 Hours, but this time I’m racing so I am super happy. I hope to have a good week preparing for a good race! 

Mike Di Meglio
Mike Di Meglio 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
Today was very good. I think we were at our best at the last tests, but maybe we are missing a something a bit. But I think we found a good pace for the race. Everyone around us aren’t that much faster, so if we can keep a good pace, I think we can secure a good position.

Alan Techer
Alan Techer 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
Everything was going well. The three of us were able to control the bike in the same way and we found a good setup to base the race on. It is a lot of fun to ride this bike and it is also a lot of fun to ride at Suzuka. 

Tarran Mackenzie
Tarran Mackenzie 5
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
My first time on the TSR bike was a great experience and a lot of fun, I just came to this track as a reserve rider for HRC, so this is quite unexpected. I never thought I would be able to race at this track again, so I am very happy. I really enjoy riding this bike and everyone in the team has been very friendly and welcoming. So I really enjoyed the first day. Thank you very much.

Teppei Nagoe
Teppei Nagoe 73
SDG Honda Racing
Since Noguchi just joined us, he spent a good deal of time on track to get used to the bike. During that time, we made adjustments wherever we could. About a month has passed since the last tests, conditions have changed, and there are both positive and negative aspects that we now realize. Today ended without being able to improve the negatives. I felt like there was a gap between how the bike felt and our lap times. In endurance racing, average times are important, so I will work on the settings on Friday morning and try to get my feel and the bike’s matched up in Qualifying.

Naomichi Uramoto
Naomichi Uramoto 73
SDG Honda Racing
Today our main focus was to get Noguchi accustomed to the bike, so I hope he’ll get a better feel for the bike for Friday's Qualifying. In terms of overall pace, we are still lacking in average, so we need to work on the settings a bit more. Maybe it was good that we were able to identify the negatives today. Since there will be no riding tomorrow, I will talk with the crew and my teammates, and think things over on my own, and make progress for the race. We need to qualify in the top 10, but more importantly, I think we need to look ahead to the race and see how we can improve our averages! 

Haruki Noguchi
Haruki Noguchi 73
SDG Honda Racing
Today was my first time on SDG Honda Racing's Suzuka 8 Hours bike, and there was a lot that was completely new to me. I had never raced at Suzuka on a 1000cc bike before, and with this heat, today was very difficult. I was able to get used to the bike a bit thanks to Nagoe and Uramoto giving me some of their track time, but I haven't been able to get to where I want to be. There’s no riding tomorrow,  so I’ll rest well and try to ride well in the practice session on Friday. In any case, I will take it one day at a time and do the best I can.

Md Zaqhwan Bin Zaidi
Md Zaqhwan Bin Zaidi 88
Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA
I was able to do some long sessions, check fuel consumption, and complete the tests set by the team, but I still have not reached my own target time. The team's target is to finish in the top 5, so I need to improve my times to get there. My best lap today was in the 2 min 8s range, but I need to improve my average. Andi crashed and I am worried about his injury, but I am relieved to hear that he will be able to ride in the qualifying session. If possible, I hope all three of us will be able to race in the Suzuka 8 Hours!

Nakarin Atiratphuvapat
Nakarin Atiratphuvapat 88
Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA
I was supposed to be able to race in the Suzuka 8 Hours last year, but I tested positive for COVID, which was very frustrating and disappointing. The Suzuka 8 Hours is a very famous race in Asia, and it has been my dream to race here, so I am really happy to be here now. The race will be held in hot weather, so I have been training hard this year to stay in good physical condition. I am still not there yet, but my lap times are improving every time I’m on track, and I am concentrating on finding and following the fastest riders and understanding how to ride in Suzuka. I still have to work hard, but I want to make the most of the opportunity to race in the Suzuka 8 Hours.

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