Alex Lowes Scores Provisional Pole for Yamaha Factory Racing in Suzuka
The Yamaha Factory Racing Team were determined to keep their Suzuka record up today, with Alex Lowes scorching to the fastest lap of the day to secure provisional pole position in the 2017 Coca-Cola Suzuka 8Hours. The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team put in a strong performance to secure a place in the top ten, with Broc Parkes taking the fastest lap time. The GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team continued to focus on their race pace, wrapping up the day with 15th on the grid for Sundays race.
The day started a lot slower than it ended, with Factory riders Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark faced with a half wet, half dry track to kick off the morning practice. Sitting out the early minutes of the delayed start, as the circuit began to dry out the team took to the track. Once out it was business as usual, the trio quickly finding a competitive pace amongst the frontrunners. As the delayed session played out its final minutes, the team stepped up the pace. Fighting through heavy traffic to temporarily lead the pack by an impressive 2.8s they eventually settled in to third at the end of the session with a final best lap of 2’10.562s.
The morning qualifying heats saw storming performances from first Nakasuga and then Lowes. Both delivered just a single flying hot lap to lead their session before returning to the pits. Nakasuga’s 2’06.779s was the first lap under the .7s mark for the day. Not to be outdone, British rider Lowes followed suite, laying down what was to be the provisional pole lap on his first attempt, a scorching 2’06.405s. With used tyres, heavy traffic and a session halting red flag, the morning QP proved more challenging for van der Mark. Undeterred the Dutchman kept a consistent fast pace through the pack to score third with a 2’08.164.
The afternoon saw temperatures climb considerably, making track conditions more challenging. Multiple red flags and heavy traffic saw Nakasuga, Lowes and van der Mark take a calm approach to their QP sessions, secure in the top ten with the morning’s performance. Nakasuga was sixth in his heat, Lowes fourth and van der Mark second. Their overall average time for the day of 2’07.116s ensured provisional pole for tomorrow’s Top Ten Trial.
Alex Lowes – Yamaha Factory Racing Team:
“Today has gone really well. We worked on qualifying pace in the first session and then on used tyres this afternoon I still felt really good on the bike and it feels really strong. Its obviously not about one fast lap in this race, its about being fast and consistent for the full eight hours and in particular for the hour of your riding stint. Im full focus on the race, I feel good and Im enjoying the weekend.”