Top 10 Trial
EWC 2023
Round 3

Second Consecutive Pole Position for Team HRC with Japan Post

jp Suzuka Circuit

Riders today entered in the second, 20-minute qualifying session to improve their grid positions in the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race (Suzuka 8 Hours). Combined with the first qualifying session results from yesterday, the average times of the fastest laps by the two fastest riders in each team

Second Consecutive Pole Position for Team HRC with Japan Post

As temperatures began to rise in the morning, the second qualifying session for Riders Blue kicked off. YART - YAMAHA OFFICIAL TEAM EWC (Yamaha) set the fastest lap, 2 min 5.948s. Team HRC with Japan Post (Takumi Takahashi / Tetsuta Nagashima / Xavi Vierge) was also fast from the outset, with Nagashima setting the second fastest time of 2 min 6.235s. Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing (Kosuke Sakumoto / Ryo Mizuno / Kazuma Watanabe) was third with Mizuno’s 2 min 6.730s lap, and SDG Honda Racing (Teppei Nagoe / Naomichi Uramoto / Haruki Noguchi) was fifth with Uramoto’s 2 min 7.146s lap.

In the second Rider Yellow qualifying session, Honda’s best performer was Honda Dream RT SAKURAI Honda (Kazuki Ito / Daijiro Hiura / Kota Arakawa) in third with Hiura’s 2 min 7.454s lap. Team HRC with Japan Post’s Takahashi set the fifth fastest time of the session, 2 min 7.532s.

In the second Rider Red qualifying session, TOHO Racing (Ryuichi Kiyonari / Takuma Kunimine / Ikuhiro Enokido) put in an outstanding performance, as Enokido set the second-fastest lap at 2 min 6.942s. Team HRC with Japan Post was third fastest with 2 min 6.976s set by Vierge. SDG Honda Racing’s Noguchi was fifth-fastest, followed by Honda Dream RT SAKURAI Honda‘s Arakawa sixth. F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Mike Di Meglio / Alan Techer / Tarran Mackenzie) had a tough session with Mackenzie crashing at the S-bend, although he managed to get back up and return to the pits.

Once the first and second qualifying sessions were complete, teams proceeding to the Top 10 Trial were announced: Team HRC with Japan Post was second-fastest, Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing fourth, TOHO Racing fifth, SDG Honda Racing sixth, F.C.C. TSR Honda France eighth, and Honda Dream RT SAKURAI Honda tenth. Six Honda teams had made it into the Top 10 Trial.

For the first time in six years, the Top 10 Trial was held. Unique to the Suzuka 8 Hours, the final top 10 grid is determined by one hot lap each by two riders selected by their teams, on a completely clear track, playing the rider’s song of choice for the spectators.

First on track was Honda Dream RT SAKURAI Honda’s Arakawa, who clocked a 2 min 7.282 lap. F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s Mackenzie looked as if he would set his personal best lap, but crashed. SDG Honda Racing’s Noguchi seemed to battle with the bike’s rear end at times, but regained composure to set a 2 min 8.046s lap. Arakawa was at the top of the leader board, but his teammate Hiura changed that with a 2 min 6.970s lap. AutoRace Ube Racing Team (Suzuki) then clocked in at 2 min 6.811s, better than Hiura, but SDG Honda Racing’s Uramoto then set a 2 min 6.644 lap. Team HRC with Japan Post’s Vierge then set a 2 min 5.919s lap for provisional pole. TOHO Racing’s Enokido clocked in at 2 min 6.343s, third fastest.

After that, Team HRC with Japan Post’s Nagashima set a blistering 2 min 5.329s lap which was insurmountable, giving the team its second pole position in two years.

The final Top 10 Trial results and grid positions were: Team HRC with Japan Posts on pole, TOHO Racing third, SDG Honda Racing fourth, Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing sixth, Honda Dream RT SAKURAI Honda eighth, F.C.C. TSR Honda France tenth. Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA will start from 16th grid.

The Suzuka 8 Hours race will start in its traditional Le Mans-style at 11:30 am on August 6 (Sun).

Takumi Takahashi
Takumi Takahashi 33
Team HRC with Japan Post
I wasn’t in the Top 10 Trial, so I was watching the two riders. Tetsuta was able to get into the 2 min 5s range on his hot lap. Xavi also set a good time even though it was his first Top 10. Both of them worked hard today, so I hope to do my part in the race and contribute to the team. 

Tetsuta Nagashima
Tetsuta Nagashima 33
Team HRC with Japan Post
I’m relieved to be back. I was injured, and during the time I couldn't ride, I felt depressed. But I was determined to ride, no matter what. I am grateful to the team for making the decision to let me race. I will do my best in the race to prove they made the right choice. 

Xavi Vierge
Xavi Vierge 33
Team HRC with Japan Post
Tetsu's riding in Sector 1 during the Top 10 Trial was amazing. He was riding as if he was going straight through, and I wanted to learn how to ride like that. I would like to thank Takumi who made it possible for me to compete in the Top 10 Trial. I want to thank him because he believed in me. It was very exciting and fun. Tetsu set the fastest time and we’re on pole position, so we will go for the win! 

Ryuichi Kiyonari
Ryuichi Kiyonari 104
TOHO Racing
The team’s two best riders are Enokido and Kunimine, but everyone on the team made a decision to let me run. It didn't go as well as I would have liked, but I was happy to be allowed to be in the Top 10 Trial. 

Takuma Kunimine 104
TOHO Racing
Although I was not in the Top 10 Trial, I am happy that my teammate was third fastest. In terms of average times, Kiyonari and Enokido's times are better than mine. I haven't caught up with them yet, so I'll try keep the averages up in the race, and I hope to bring the team the best results I can. 

Ikuhiro Enokido
Ikuhiro Enokido 104
TOHO Racing
I’m to be selected by the team for the Top 10 Trial. It was my first time, and I am happy that I could set my best lap time. In the race, I will concentrate and do my best for the eight hours. 

Teppei Nagoe
Teppei Nagoe 73
SDG Honda Racing
I wasn't in perfect physical condition, so I rode only two laps today to confirm my fitness, and then I took the rest of the day off to prepare for the race. I left the Top 10 Trial up to my teammates Uramoto and Noguchi. As a team, Uramoto's best time placed us on P4, so I will work hard to make sure I’m in perfect condition for the race. We will work as a team to achieve a good result. 

Naomichi Uramoto
Naomichi Uramoto 73
SDG Honda Racing
This was my second Top 10 Trial, but I was worried because I don't have that much experience, and to be honest, I am not good at hot laps. However, I wanted to be faster than the non-factory teams. The result was 4th grid, which was frustrating. But 4th on the grid is a position that won't have a big impact on the race, so I'm glad. I will make final adjustments during free practice tomorrow morning and then go for the race. 

Haruki Noguchi
Haruki Noguchi 73
SDG Honda Racing
In the second qualifying session, I tried to improve my time to get into the Top 10 Trial, and I was able to put together a good lap. But in the Top 10 Trial, things didn't do well. That was very frustrating and something I should reflect on. I had never experienced a one lap-only time trial, so it did not go well this time, but I hope to use this experience for the next time. As a result, we’re better placed on the grid than in the qualifying, so I am very happy about that. I joined the team on Wednesday, and the team has accepted me and I have been able to blend in, so I will do my best to achieve solid results.

Mike Di Meglio
Mike Di Meglio 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
Today was very complicated. Tarran did a very good job but unfortunately crashes can happen. The bike was really good and we had good pace. So I think we will have a good race tomorrow. Fortunately, neither Alan nor Tarran, who both crashed, were injured, so we have to push ahead and I believe we can. I think we are in a good position, so we have to fix the bike and get on the podium. 

Alan Techer
Alan Techer 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
Today all the qualifying sessions are over and we’re starting from 10th position, which is a good position. There is not a big gap in lap times, and our target is the race tomorrow. We’re ready to fight for the top five and the podium without dropping too many championship points. No one knows about the weather, so we just have to go for it. 

Tarran Mackenzie
Tarran Mackenzie 5
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
Everything was going well during my qualifying lap, but unfortunately I made a mistake and crashed. I was doing solid laps and had a good feeling that I could have been at least in the top five or even top three, but it was a disappointing result. But other than that, I have a good feeling with the bike and my race pace is not too bad. The weather tomorrow is going to be a bit tricky, so maybe it will suit me. I think I am pretty well prepared for the race, so I am confident. 

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