Britain’s Alex Lowes has taken provisional pole for Sunday’s 40th anniversary Suzuka Eight-Hours, sticking in a lap faster than last year’s pole to put the Factory Yamaha firmly in the driving seat ahead of the Top Ten Trial tomorrow.
Lowes was easily the fastest in his group with a 2’06.405 - last year Pol Espargaro set a 2’06.458 for pole - on the R1 and was half a second up on the Yoshimura Suzuki of Takuya Tsuda in second place but Lowes’ team-mate Kats Nakasuga was also quicker than the second-placed team.
“We worked on qualifying pace in the first session and then on used tyres this afternoon I still felt really good on the bike and it feels really strong. Its obviously not about one fast lap in this race, its about being fast and consistent for the full eight hours and in particular for the hour of your riding stint. Im full focus on the race, I feel good and Im enjoying the weekend,” said Lowes.
Tsuda was the only other rider in the 2’06s bracket as third-placed Dominique Aegerter, on the FCC TSR Honda, mustered a 2’07.371 which edged Leon Haslam’s 2’07.398 into fourth place. The Team Green Kawasaki rider was three-tenths ahead of Takua Nakagami on the works MuSASHI HARC Fireblade.
MotoGP star Jack Miller, also on the MuSASHI bike, was not too far behind on a 2’07.586 while Josh Brookes set a 2’08.134 as his best. Yoshimura team-mate Sylvain Guintoli was a little quicker than his BSB colleague, putting in a 2’07.508.
Honda’s Jason O’Halloran got under the 2’10s with a 2’09.599 while Christian Iddon, who is making his Suzuka debut, was only just behind on a 2’09.941. Former BSB star Ryuichi Kiyonari, who is teaming with Dan Linfoot, set a 2’08.661 on the Moriwaki Motul Honda. Linfoot himself put in a 2’09.891.
As the run for the Top Ten Trial is taken on the average lap time, the overall qualification look like this:
Yamaha Factory Racing
Yoshimura Suzuki Motul
MuSASHI HARC Pro
Kawasaki Team Green
Honda Suzuka Racing
Satu Hati Honda Asia