Red Bull Honda Fastest in First Two Day 1 Suzuka 8 Hours Test Sessions
The first official joint tests for one of summer’s biggest festivals, the 42nd “Coca-Cola” Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race, got underway at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie, Japan.
Red Bull Honda Fastest in First Two Day 1 Suzuka 8 Hours Test Sessions
SUZUKA Circuit, Japan, July 9, 2019
The first official joint tests for one of summer's biggest festivals, the 42nd "Coca-Cola" Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race (Suzuka 8 Hours), got underway at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie, Japan.
In its second year since returning as Honda's factory team, Red Bull Honda (#33) fortified its team structure around Takumi Takahashi, currently racing in the All Japan Road Race Championship (JRR) JSB1000 class. Takahashi is hot off four consecutive wins, and currently leads the points. He arrives at the Suzuka 8 Hours in top form, after setting an unprecedented 2 min 3s874 in the Suzuka 2&4 Race. Takahashi is joined, by his request, by Superbike World Championship (WSBK) rider Ryuichi Kiyonari. The team auditioned MotoGP test rider Stefan Bradl and Moto2 rider Tetsuta Nagashima in an open test for its third rider on June 3 and 4. Although both riders had the speed to lap at 2 min 6s, the team selected Bradl.
Takahashi and Kiyonari participated in the 3 manufacturer joint test on June 25 and 26, both marking 2 min 6s lap times. Back in the saddle as Honda factory riders for the first time in eight years, Kiyonari and Takahashi had teamed up twice before for HARC-PRO. and won in 2011. Although the team could not complete the 2012 race, Takahashi has a tremendous amount of trust in Kiyonari.
This year's Suzuka 8 Hours joint tests will be held over three days, from July 9 to 11. As Kiyonari will be racing in WSBK Round 9 in the USA, Takahashi and Bradl participated in the first day of tests. Takahashi showed much enthusiasm in conducting each test throughout the day, and was joined for the night session by Bradl who arrived at Suzuka in the evening, straight from pinch-hitting for injured Jorge Lorenzo in MotoGP Round 9, the German Grand Prix. Tests will be picking up pace tomorrow.
MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda (#634) had already secured Ryo Mizuno and British Superbike Championship (BSB) rider Xavi Forés to ride for the team. For their third rider, JRR J-GP2 rider Teppei Nagoe had participated in the June tests, but the spot went to Dominique Aegerter, who had rode for the team last year, and was on hand today. F.C.C. TSR Honda France (#1) are the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) defending champions, and their regular riders Freddie Foray, Josh Hook and Mike di Meglio also participated in Day 1 of the tests.
The 45-minute Session 1 started at noon, dividing the teams into two groups, A and B. In Group A Takahashi marked the fastest lap of 2 min 5s939. Hook was 4th fastest with 2 min 8s957 and Mizuno 5th with 2 min 8s958. In the combined times for both groups, Takahashi was fastest, Hook was 5th and Mizuno 6th. The 75-minute Session 2 began at 3:15 pm. Takahashi was again the fastest with 2 min 6s104. Hook was 3rd with his 2 min 6s911 lap, while Mizuno took 4th with 2 min 7s118. In the combined times, Takahashi was once again on top, with Hook 3rd and Mizuno 4th giving Honda an excellent start to the tests. Night session times will be available on the 10th.
All sessions were conducted on a dry track, with clear skies in the evening, despite being held in the monsoon season, which is prone to sudden showers and thunderstorms.
Tohru Ukawa | Red Bull Honda (#33) Team Manager
"We concentrated on tuning the endurance bike we had been testing. It's going quite smoothly. We decided on Stefan Bradl, with his WSBK experience, as our third rider. He arrived in the evening, straight from replacingLorenzo in the MotoGP German Grand Prix, and rode in the night session. Tests start in earnest from tomorrow. We'll concentrate on evolving the bike even more."
Ryo Mizuno | MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda (#634)
"For the first time we have all three riders, so I'm looking forward to the race. I've spent the most time on our bike, so we'll make adjustments from my base setup. All of our riders have their own opinions, so we'll work towards finding the best common setup without worrying too much about personal likes."
Xavi Forés | MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda (#634)
"It's my first time at Suzuka, and the first time I'll race here, so I want to enjoy myself for me, and the team. It's an important race for the team, and I really want to do my best. The CBR is a great bike, and it is well suited to the Suzuka track. I'll do my best, as the Suzuka 8 Hours is a very important race for Honda, and I want to get the results."
Dominique Aegerter | MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda (#634)
"The bike is clearly better than last year. I just arrived in Japan yesterday, and the tests have just begun, but I want to keep on tuning the bike well into race week. Moto2 is on summer break, so it's wonderful that I can participate in this event from a team supperted by Honda.There's a lot still to be done, but I'll do my best to get strong results."
Shigeki Honda | MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda (#634) President and Team Manager
"We have Dominique Aegerter as our third rider, and Xavi Forés is here, so we have all three of our riders working towards setting up the bike for the race. The morning session was a bit disappointing, as the track temperature did not rise much and we only did about 60 percent of what we planned, but all three riders had similar comments so we have a clear direction. We'll try two setups tomorrow according to the track's temperature. I want to be able to take the bike up to 90 percent readiness as quickly as possible, to focus on the race."
Masakazu Fujii | F.C.C. TSR Honda France (#1) Team Manager
"Josh's 9,000km trip from Germany was worth it. His 2 min 6s lap, within an hour of arriving at Suzuka, was impressive. We still have another session tonight, and Days 2 and 3, so we'll keep on working to make this Suzuka 8 Hours one worth remembering."
Md Zaqhwan Zaidi | Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA (#22)
"At this stage, it's not bad. It's only the first day but we're doing fine. The Suzuka 8 Hours is an important race for me. It's not easy to be a part of, and it's a top level race, so it's an honor and I'm glad to be able to race here. We've done our best to represent Asia, so we need everyone's support. That will lead us to better results."
Andi Izdihar | Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA (#22)
"I was a bit nervous since it was my first time on a 1000cc bike since February, but my feeling returned and got better with each ride. For me the Suzuka 8 Hours is a very exciting race. Teamwork is vital, so it's very challenging. I'll do my best and aim to finish in the top 5."
Makoto Tamada | Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA (#22) Team Manager
"This year we're aiming for 5th. Our team's best result to date is 6th, so we're aiming to do better. Finishing 5th among factory teams is usually a tall order, but you never know what will happen in endurance racing, se we're aiming high. Andi has great potential, which pressures Zaqhwan as well, so I hope they can both be a good influence on each other and race fast. There are many European riders at the Suzuka 8 Hours, so we want to show how fast Asian riders are."