Yamaha Factory Racing Team Starts Strong with the
Fastest Time on Day 1 of the 2016 Suzuka 8 Hours!

The 39th "Coca-Cola Zero" Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race finally got underway on July 28, 2016.

For the first day, two one-hour practice sessions were held in the afternoon. The first session was temporarily red-flagged due to several hard crashes, but once restarted, there were no other incidents for the rest of the day and riders continued their runs, repeatedly coming into and leaving the pits.

The Yamaha Factory Racing Team clocked a 2'08.690 in the first session and a 2'08.194 in the second session to take the top spot on the combined timesheets for the day, demonstrating that both the riders and the machine are in good shape for the race.

Meanwhile, the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team, which welcomes All Japan JSB1000 class regulars Takuya Fujita and Kohta Nozane to the squad this year, was on the timesheets with a 2'09.683 lap time set by lead rider, Broc Parkes. Fujita and Nozane focused on continuing their on-track efforts from the pre-event tests to become more familiar with the 17-inch Pirelli tires on the #7 YZF-R1.

Lastly, the GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team, currently sitting 5th in the Endurance World Championship standings, set their best time of the day with a 2'10.623 lap of Suzuka Circuit.

Yamaha Factory Racing Team

Katsuyuki Nakasuga

"It finally feels like the Suzuka 8 Hours is underway. Of course, I rode the circuit several times during the pre-event tests, but in each session, the temperature was lower than expected and we didn't ride under the heat we had today, so in that sense, today's sessions were a good test for us. Our main focus today was primarily checking the bike and making sure everything's running well, and since we had to get all three of us some time on the bike within a limited time span, we didn't run particularly fast laps. But during the previous test sessions, we all set quick times so we'll start upping the pace bit by bit from here on. We've done everything we needed to do and we can all run similar lap times, so I really think we're the strongest team."    

Pol Espargaro

"At the beginning this morning I was trying to re-adapt after the test, then back to MotoGP and back again. Between the two practices I remembered a little bit and the second practice was much better. We are on the top again and that feels good. The team is great, we are riding the same and all fast, we can share the settings in electronics and the bike and we all feel comfortable on the YZF-R1 so it's not a problem. I made a big improvement from this morning so I'm happy with the result."

Alex Lowes

"It's been quite good, I enjoyed the first day. The most important thing for me is getting used to the size of the grid. There are many more guys than in WorldSBK so I worked to understand where the good places are to overtake. In my last run there was a lot of traffic so I had time to learn where to overtake safely. My pace is good and as a team we are fast so I'll keep moving my riding style towards endurance racing and looking forward to tomorrow."

Team Manager Wataru Yoshikawa

"[Katsuyuki] Nakasuga recently finished testing the YZR-M1 and Pol [Espargaró] just finished a MotoGP race, so I instructed them to be careful and take it easy today since we're only just beginning. Especially today, there were no separate sessions for class entries and there were a lot of bikes out on the track so we needed to avoid getting caught up in any accidents. But we finished the day's sessions without incident so we can breathe easy for a bit. Alex [Lowes] joins us this year and he has the same speed as Nakasuga and Pol. I think with the level of our riders, if we were to let them go out and ride as fast as they can, any one of them could take pole position for us. But having teammates compete against each other won't lead us to results, and while that's something we're aware of, all three of them are professionals so I'm not particularly worried. We started riding today and rather than chasing times, our main goal was to get all three riders used to lapping Suzuka Circuit on the EWC-spec YZF-R1. We'll start slowly upping the pace tomorrow."

YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

Broc Parkes

"I felt pretty good on the bike today and I was pretty surprised to see the lap times we got. We didn't ride so much so to get straight into the 9s was good. We had quite some traffic but I think that's quite our race pace. For sure the Pirelli tyres here don't have the same experience as the Bridgestone tyres, but we just try to be as close as possible to the front guys. My goal for the weekend is top ten in qualifying for a good start for the race. My teammates did well, they need to learn the Pirelli tyres but with more laps and the race they will adapt even more."

Kohta Nozane

"In today's sessions, I was able to continuously ride on used tires, and while my times haven't improved since the pre-event tests, I feel I have a slightly better idea of how to use the Pirelli tires. But there isn't much time left until the race, so it's all down to how quickly I can figure out the bike's character. I'll take full advantage of my time on the bike before the race with the goal of arriving on Sunday in the best possible condition."

Takuya Fujita

"It's been about two weeks since the last test, but that and a few other things were on my mind on our first day here. The time isn't quite there yet, but I've got good feeling and I plan to up my pace little by little. But this isn't an individual race, but a team event, so I'd like for the three of us to work together towards improving. There were a lot of bikes out there in today's sessions and I felt like I was going to run into some slower machines a couple times. But my plan is to just keep riding as best I can and avoid crashing at all costs."

Team Manager Mandy Kainz

"We try to improve practice by practice, especially our young guns. Today was a little bit harder than the test as it was really hot and a huge amount of traffic on the track. It's been a good start and we will make another step forward tomorrow."

GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team

David Checa

"For sure it was a little difficult today as we had a 17-inch tyre in the test and new product here today in a different size. Also Lucas needs some time to learn the track as he wasn't here for the test. We tried some different settings and improved over the day and we hope for more improvements tomorrow. We will check the data and win a little bit more in terms of pace, and also safety for the front-end on the throttle."

Team Manager Christophe Guyot

"The first feeling is very good regarding the pace of David and Niccolo with the new tyres provided by Dunlop. The only problem is that we don't have so much time to set up the bike with these new tyres as we only received them today. Anyway, we are happy, so thank you Dunlop. Lucas is learning the track really fast, but unfortunately pushed a little too hard this afternoon and crashed. The good news is he is not injured and the bike is ready to go again."