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  |   News Racing

The Yamaha Factory Racing Team got their bid to win an unprecedented fifth consecutive Suzuka 8 Hour race off to a flying start today, by securing provisional pole position in two tense qualifying sessions.


The star of the show was undoubtedly Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who posted the only sub 2’06s lap in the first of his two 20-minute qualifying outings. Nakasuga’s time of 2’05.922 was his fastest ever lap of the 5.821km Suzuka circuit aboard the endurance specification Yamaha YZF-R1 and the fastest of any rider so far this weekend.


Equally strong qualifying performances from Nakasuga’s two teammates, Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, saw the Yamaha Factory Racing Team claim provisional pole position with an advantage of just 0.014s once the times had been combined. Lowes was unfortunate to suffer a crash in Q1, but he was uninjured in what was only a minor tumble.


Both Yamaha teams will face the Top 10 Trial tomorrow, in which the final grid positions for Sunday’s Suzuka 8 Hour race will be decided. However, with the outer edge of a typhoon expected to hit the circuit overnight, wet conditions could well lead to a change in format for the Top 10 Trial, as similar conditions did 12 months ago.


Michael van der Mark – Yamaha Factory Racing Team – 2’07.306: “I was really happy with today. Up until qualifying I’d been using the sessions to build confidence in the bike, and I’d got to the point this morning where the used tyres were the only thing stopping me from going quicker. With the new tyres for the first qualifying session I made a massive step and I think I could have gone a big quicker if it wasn’t for the two red flags. I wasn’t quicker in the second qualifying session, but I was really consistent and that’s really important given the format of the race. Both Alex and Katsuyuki were really fast so, overall, it’s been a really positive day but the important thing for me was that I gained a lot of confidence and made a big improvement with both my pace and my consistency.”