Yamaha’s Alex Lowes brushed off a crash in the opening Suzuka Eight-Hours qualifying session today to post the squad’s second quickest time as team-mate Kats Nakasuga put in a fresh Bridgestone to take provisional pole.
Lowes went down in qualifying one in what was described as a ‘minor’ incident but came out fighting in the second session, putting in a 2’06.838 on used race rubber, only two-tenths slower than he achieved on fresh hoops.
“Traffic was a bit of an issue today, both in Q1 when I was on new tyres and in Q2 when I was running on the used tyres, but that was good practice for the race, where there’s always a lot of traffic,” said Lowes.
I felt good on the bike, although I also felt I could have gone a little bit quicker today, but a quick qualifying time isn’t quite so critical for an eight-hour race.
“I was happy with my pace and I was happy I was able to a 2’06s lap on used tyres, which was quite good. I think we’ve all done a good job today; we can be quite satisfied with the work that saw us end the day on provisional pole position.
“Tomorrow in the Top Ten Trial it’s important to secure a good starting position for the race. We want to be fastest just because we want to be fastest for ourselves but, in terms of the race, it doesn’t make such a big difference. We feel good, all three riders are happy after a solid couple of days, so we’re pretty much ready to race.”
Team manager Wataru Yoshikawa added: “With Alex’s crash he hurt his left and right legs, but he’s saying that it was really minor, and he has no issues at all, so I’m glad to hear that.
“In the first qualifying session all three riders put in a new tyre, but with Alex and Michael their timing in getting on track wasn’t so good, so they weren’t able to show their true pace, I think.
“In the second session all three were on used tyres and pushing for lap times, and to me it looked like they all were in very fine form.
“In the Eight-Hours we can’t have everything exactly perfect to fit all three riders since it’s only one bike, so it becomes an exercise in making the best of what’s available. I really respect all three of these guys as pro riders to be able to do that.”