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.
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.