Red Bull Honda Finishes On Top in Day 3 Suzuka 8 Hours Joint Test
Red Bull Honda was once again fastest on the final day, Day 3 of one of summer's highlights, the 42nd "Coca-Cola" Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race.
Red Bull Honda Finishes On Top in Day 3 Suzuka 8 Hours Joint Test
SUZUKA Circuit, Japan, July 11, 2019
The final day, Day 3 of one of summer's highlights, the 42nd "Coca-Cola" Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race (Suzuka 8 Hours), got underway at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie, Japan. Rain, sometimes strong, provided a valuable test day for teams who were in great need of test data in the wet, as the weather for this year's All Japan Road Race Championship, and Suzuka 8 Hours tests, was dry to date.
Wet conditions persisted throughout the day. Teams were divided into two groups, A and B, for the 40-minute Session 7 from 9:00 am and Session 8 from 10:50 am, and the 90-minute Session 9 from 2:00 pm.
Red Bull Honda (#33) rider Stefan Bradl had returned to Germany in the early morning for personal reasons, and was not able to ride on Day 3, leaving Takumi Takahashi to conduct tests for the team. Takahashi was fastest in Session 7, and with his best lap of 2 min 17s363, was clearly faster than everyone else. His nearest rival, a Suzuki, lapped at 2 min 20s581. In Session 8 he was once again the fastest, but fell at the Degner Curve, fortunately uninjured and able to ride the spare bike for 7 laps in Session 9. Takahashi seemed unstoppable as he was 6th fastest even on the spare bike. His best lap in Session 7 was overall fastest for the day. Red Bull Honda, and indeed Takahashi, proved both speed and strength by being fastest in the wet and the dry.
KYB MORIWAKI RACING (#19, Yuki Takahashi / Tomoyoshi Koyama / Troy Herfoss) used the entire test time to gather wet condition data, conduct tests, and moved up to 4th overall. au Teluru SAG RT (#090, Kosuke Akiyoshi / Tetsuta Nagashima / Taiga Hada) also had a successful day, moving up to 7th overall. F.C.C.TSR Honda France (#1) Endurance World Championship (EWC) riders Freddy Foray, Josh Hook and Mike Di Meglio went about their work enthusiastically in the rain, finishing the day 11th overall. Honda Suzuka Racing Team (#25, Yuudai Kamei / Daijiro Hiura / Jun Tadokoro), a team of Honda Associates, was 12th overall.
Despite not yet having a third rider, Md Zaqhwan Zaidi and Andi Farid Izdihar rode hard for Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA (#22), taking the team to 21st overall. Team Manager Tamada commented, "these are our two main riders. The third rider will be supporting them, and I look forward to their development throughout the race."
For MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda (#634), all three riders, Ryo Mizuno, Dominique Aegerter and Xavi Forés, made their contributions in Sessions 7 and 8, but the team decided not to participate in the afternoon. Although their overall time was 24th fastest, Team Manager Kotaro Honda mentioned, "we wanted our riders to experience the wet conditions, rather than aim for faster times." Honda continued, "Especially with Xavi, our priority was for him to become familiar with the conditions, as it was his first time to ride at Suzuka on rain tires in the wet. It was a very important test, as we had dry and wet sessions."
Honda DREAM RT Sakurai Honda (#72) riders Sodo Hamahara, Shinichi Ito and Kosuke Sakumoto rode to overall 28th, finishing up in the morning and not participating in Session 9. Ito said, "there's a 30kg weight difference between Hamahara [90kg] and Sakumoto [60kg], which means the bike they want to ride is completely different, so we're in the process of setting up the bike to suit both riders' characteristics." The team had a lot of work to do over the three-day test period.
Red Bull Honda, with Takumi Takahashi who rapidly developed into the fastest rider, will make their final preparations at the two-day joint test planned before going into the Suzuka 8 Hours. Each team will use the data gathered over the past three days to perfect their bikes and strategies ahead of race week.
#33 Red Bull Honda
Tohru Ukawa | Red Bull Honda (#33) Team Manager
"We managed to go over everything we planned for in the wet today. We've tested long stints, we wanted to ride in the wet, and we know that Takumi [Takahashi] is fastest in both the dry and wet, so I'm satisfied. We're prepared for race week. We'll be going into the race, able to handle anything that comes up."
Freddy Foray | F.C.C. TSR Honda France (#1)
"It was a tough first half of the season, but thing are looking up now. The Suzuka 8 Hours is a competition between great manufacturers and riders, but we're aiming to win. The bike is feeling great, so I believe as long as we do our best, we'll get the results."
Josh Hook | F.C.C. TSR Honda France (#1)
"The bike, including suspension and tires, is made in Japan. Our strength is that we have a lot of data gathered on its home ground. It is an outstanding machine, so we'll continue fine-tuning, and make even more improvements by the next time I ride. We're aiming to win, or finish 2nd at worst. We haven't given up on winning the EWC."
Mike Di Meglio | F.C.C. TSR Honda France (#1)
"I'm grateful for being a part of the Suzuka 8 Hours. I was able to improve my pace over the two days of dry conditions, and I can still make more progress. But, we're concentrating on average times for the race. The team is aiming to finish on the podium, so I'll push hard so we can get there."
Masakazu Fujii | F.C.C. TSR Honda France (#1) Team Manager
"We still have more work to do if we want to go higher. Our riders, the bike, and our team and in great condition, but I'm still not satisfied. Honestly, I fell we're not at where we should be. You never know what will happen during the race, so it's important to be in a position to win when that ‘something' happens. We'll do our best with a renewed determination for the race."
Ryo Mizuno | MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda (#634)
"We have the speed, but we need to improve our average for all three riders. That's what is important for the race. We didn't have any problems in the private test in June, so we learned a lot this time around. The team has a good track record, is determined to win, and has a great bike, so we have a serious shot at winning."
Shigeki Honda | MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda (#634) President and Team Manager
"It has been a comprehensive three days, with testing in the dry, the wet, the hot and the cold. We still have issues, but we're 80 to 85 percent there. We've figured out what still has to be tested, and based on how our riders are doing, it won't be a bad battle. We're hoping for a great race."