WorldSBK stars Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark and the factory Yamaha team finished the Suzuka Eight-Hours pre-race test on top and were the only outfit to drop under the 2’07s barrier.
Yamaha’s Kats Nakasuga set a 2’06.798 to win the day with the next nearest works team, Red Bull Honda - Stefan Bradl, Takumi Takahashi, Ryuichi Kiyonari – in fourth place and more than half a second off the pace.
“We’ve had a good test these two days. It got hot really suddenly, so the team had a challenge adapting our bike settings to that, but we could still complete our test program like we wanted to,” said Nakasuga.
“Michael is back, so that’s very reassuring for all of us. Starting tomorrow we’ll run into our tyre limit, and that’s when the real challenge starts. Last year I crashed on the Saturday before the race so for now, my main goal is to get through this Saturday without any issues.”
In between the factory boys, FCC TSR Honda France – Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike DiMeglio - took second with a 2’07.178 and YART - Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Nico Canepa - were third with a 2’07.233.
Kawasaki - Leon Haslam, Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu - ended in fifth and third factory team with a 2’07.491 with the Musashi Pro Honda team, which stars BSB’s Xavi Fores, in sixth on a 2’07.794.
Sylvain Guintoli and the Yoshimura Suzuki squad were seventh, the excellently-named VRD Igol Pierret Experiences squad – Florian Alt, Florian Marino and Xavier Siméon – in eighth with Tommy Bridewell and Bradley Ray on the S-Pulse Suzuki in ninth. Team ATJ with Japan Post Honda were tenth and three seconds off the pace.
A little further down the sheets, Gino Rea and the Wójcik Racing Yamaha are in 20th with MotoMap Swat Suzuki - Dan Linfoot and Josh Waters - in 22nd. Danny Buchan is with the Bolliger Kawasaki squad in 25th place while fellow BSB star Josh Elliott’s RsCL team are 28th. Stefan Hill and the Zaif NCXX team are 40th.
The two teams leading the provisional championship standings kept up their progress. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team posted the day’s 10th-fastest lap (a 2’09.518) despite a minor crash involving Britain’s Gregg Black. Team SRC Kawasaki France were 15th with a time of 2:10.099.
The quicker lap times came at the price of a couple of crashes. Yesterday, Bram Lambrechts, the stand-in for Brandon Cretu on the Monaco-based team GSM Racing’s Suzuki, had to withdraw after sustaining a broken collarbone. During the third session of private tests today, Christoffer Bergman crashed spectacularly. He escaped unharmed, but one of the Wocjcik Racing Team’s bikes is a write-off.