Yamaha Factory Racing storms to provisional pole in dominant Suzuka qualifying
The Yamaha Factory Racing Team picked up today in Suzuka exactly where they left off last year, dominating every single session to secure provisional pole ahead of tomorrow’s top ten shoot out for the 2016 Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours.
The combination of All Japan Superbike star Katsuyuki Nakasuga, MotoGP’s Pol Espargaró and WorldSBK’s Alex Lowes proved unstoppable with all three consistently keeping the pressure on. Nakasuga sent a strong message of the team’s intentions in this morning’s qualifying, wasting no time in delivering a 2’06.908s to set the pace in the rider 1 session.
The rider 2 session saw a similar performance from Espargaró, the MotoGP rider repeating his teammates performance with an immediate flying lap of 2’07.333s to secure the top spot. Lowes’ first qualifying proved unfortunate for the Brit as he crashed out on his first flying lap. He was thankfully uninjured and ready to fight back in the afternoon.
The second round of qualifying brought more of the same pace, Nakasuga again topping his heat with a 2’08.177s lap. Espargaró was quick to lay down a similar pace, taking second in his stint with a 2’08.321s lap. Determined to make up for his morning error, Lowes was on fire in his second qualifying attack, smashing under the 2’08 mark with a 2’07.713s for the fastest lap of the afternoon.
The team had already made a good start the day prior to qualifying, ruling the morning two-hour practice with all three breaking under the 2’08 mark to wrap up with a session best time of 2’07.806s, courtesy of Nakasuga.
Alex Lowes – Yamaha Factory Racing Team
“It was really good today. Honestly I made a small mistake and lost the front of the bike on my first lap in Q1. I was pushing a little bit, normally in endurance racing you find a nice rhythm but in the qualifying I wanted to try and do a good lap time and I made a mistake. For the afternoon session I was happy, I made it into the 2’07s on older tyres, and that was quite good. My rhythm was good and I felt the same on the bike as I did before the crash in the morning. The team did a fantastic job, this morning in the practice we did a good job together as a team, all the riders were very fast in the 2’07s which is very fast. It’s important that we have a consistent pace so it’s looking promising. I’m really enjoying the experience, it is a real team event and it’s very special. It’s so different to normal racing, as you share the bike you have to compromise on set up etc so I’ve learned a lot to take back with me to WorldSBK.”
Source: Yamaha Racing