2017 Suzuka Eight-Hours: Lowes ready to chase win hat-trick from pole

Lowes and Nakasuga were both under the lap record in qualifying
Lowes and Nakasuga were both under the lap record in qualifying Picture: Steve English

Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Alex Lowes put on a dominant showing in Qualifying for the Suzuka Eight-Hours and the Yamaha Factory Racing Team are feeling just as confident for the race.

While it was the Suzuka ace Nakasuga who set the fastest time of the Top Ten Shootout session, Alex Lowes certainly gave him a run for his money. Both riders were within just a few tenths of a second of the outright lap record and Lowes looked set to drop into the 2’05s before a mistake at the end of his lap.

“I enjoyed my lap. It’s a fantastic circuit to ride especially with all the grip from the tyres. Unfortunately I was pretty slow in the last sector, which wasn’t too good. But what’s important is to be fast for eight hours tomorrow,” Lowes told bikesportnews.com

Lowes knows what it takes to win and feels all the pieces are in place for Sunday. “With these two guys next to me, I think we have a really strong team. The atmosphere is good and I’m enjoying the event and the riding. It’s going to be tough, it always is.”

The last two years have seen Michael van der Mark watch the YFRT run away with the Suzuka 8 Hours after technical issues ruled out his HARC-Pro Honda squad. But the former World Supersport champion is already finding life in blue a little easier than last year: “I had a really good day today,” joked the Dutch rider. “If we can do the same times as in testing and so on, we can be really fast and consistent.”

Fuel consumption has been the Yamaha R1’s greatest strength in the past two years of the Suzuka 8 Hour, the bike often able to do two to three more laps than the competition before having to pit. On paper, it’s looking like another strong event for the Iwata factory.

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