The public joint test of the Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours was held on June 3 and 4. Katsuyuki Nakasuga from the Yamaha Factory Racing team, which was in its best condition at the All Japan Road Race JSB1000, attained a favorable finish result.
MuSashi RT HARC-PRO, which gained attention with the addition of Casey Stoner; and TOHO Racing with MORIWAKI, which Toni Elias is part of, did not participate in this test. However, participants included Nakasuga from YAMAHA FACTORY RACING TEAM, and in the case of F.C.C. TSR Honda, Dominique Aegerter, who participates in the Moto2 class, in addition to Josh Hook. Kousuke Akiyoshi and Kazuma Watanabe from au Teruru Kohara RT vigorously participated in the test schedule. Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance’s Takuya Tsuda and Team Green’s Akira Yanagawa and Kazuki Watanabe participated in the test as well.
Fuel consumption is an important factor in the Suzuka 8 Hours race. The average speed, rather than lap time, is the basic point of reference. However, we can’t find out or know the conditions of a vehicle finishing if there is no lap time.
The road condition of the test on June 3 changed to wet, half-wet, and dry. However, this resulted to valuable data for each team. This is because there is a high possibility that rain will fall during the race, based on the Suzuka 8 Hours races in the past few years. In fact, many managers welcomed the various road conditions.
June 4 was blessed with good weather and the road condition was completely dry.
Given that situation, the vehicle test proceeded immediately, and the top time lap was updated by the riders one after the other. Katsuyuki Nakasuga from Yamaha Factory Racing team, who was in top condition at the All Japan Road Race JSB1000, beat the overall top time at the two-day test. He had a time of 2 minutes and 07.013 seconds. Team Manager Yoshikawa said, “We will participate in the All Japan Round 2 Autopolis and Round 3 Twin Ring Motegi. Our vehicle evolved significantly since the Suzuka 2 and 4 Hours opening races. First of all, we were able to confirm the progress condition by running on the Suzuka Circuit again,” as the data of the YZF-R1 were steadily accumulated. The All Japan Specification vehicle with bib number 1 and the vehicle developed for Suzuka 8 Hours with bib number 21 were provided on this test day. However, Nakasuga was not able to drive the All Japan specification vehicle.
Aegerter had the second fastest time. He participated at the Suzuka 8 Hours last year and will participate this year as a member of F.C.C. TSR Honda. His time is 2 minutes and 07.966 seconds, which is close to Nakasuga’s time. Team General Manager Masakazu Fujii said, “When my son Kenta competed in the World Grand Prix, Aegerter competed in the Moto2 class. At that time, I told him we should compete together in the Suzuka 8 Hours.” The presence of Aegerter, who is an active Moto2 rider, is no doubt stimulating for their teammate Josh Hook.
â—† Satisfactory response to Team Green’s second year since its return to challenge the race
Last year, Team Green returned to Suzuka 8 Hours after 13 years as Kawasaki’s lineal team. This year, Akira Yanagawa and Kazuki Watanabe will continue to participate in the race. Toshiro Shakado will mainly reveal the comparison between both vehicles. However, returning for the second year this year is enough of a response. “Last year, everything was trial and error from the test stage. However, it resulted to 2 minutes and 08 seconds in the first test this year.
This is two to three seconds faster than last year, which set off a good start for the future test.” (Manager Shakado)
Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance’s Tsuda also finished the test with his best time, 2 minutes and 08.019 seconds. Tsuda brought a vehicle already equipped with headlights similar to that of Team Green. “It was a meaningful test where we were able to run on various road conditions. The weather was good on day 2 of the test, then both the atmosphere and road temperature suddenly rose. However, this was nothing compared to the heat of Suzuka 8 Hours. In the future test, we will properly focus on the final race and finish a vehicle.” says Yohei Kato.
Kousuke Akiyoshi, also known as ‘Idaten,’ belongs to au Teruru Kohara RT. Akiyoshi and Kazuma exchanged and tested each other’s vehicles. Team Manager Hitoshi Obara said, “We gathered that there was no significant difference on the setting of both vehicles. The test has only just begun. However, we want to prepare a schedule without letting our guard down, because the actual race will start in a blink of an eye.” Furthermore, the name Tetsuta Nagashima arose in rumors as the third rider. However, Manager Ohara explained, “Although there are some candidate riders, there is a possibility where the two riders, Akiyoshi and Watanabe, will finally compete.”
Among the top teams that participated in the test, the rider lineups of au Teruru Kohara RT, Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance, and Team KAGAYAMA were not yet announced, However, the appointment of riders and progress of vehicle developments are to be given attention. The second public joint test will be held on July 7 and 8. However, it is rumored that Casey Stoner will appear in this test.
(Translated by Natassia Jeronne D. Martinez)