Mixed conditions greeted the Honda Endurance Racing team during qualifying for tomorrow’s Suzuka 8 Hour race, with cooler temperatures in the morning session; track temperatures rose for the afternoon’s session at the 5.821-km circuit. Honda Endurance Racing will start the race from 26th position after a highly charged and competitive qualifying session.
The Suzuka 8 Hours is regarded as one of the biggest motorcycle events on the calendar, and with a host of local Japanese teams using their knowledge and experience at the circuit competition is high. There are 68 teams in the mix, only ten of which are regular FIM Endurance World Championship contenders, including Honda Endurance Racing and the Suzuka 8 Hours is the final round of the 2016-2017 season.
During the two-stage qualifying session Honda’s endurance specialists Freddy Foray, Julien Da Costa and Sébastien Gimbert battled with the heat, with track temperatures rising to 39° during the afternoon’s session. Working to optimise the settings of the all-new Fireblade to suit the three riders, the team also worked closely with Dunlop on tyre-life.
Race strategy is key within endurance racing and with a proven track record of near-perfect strategy with stops and re-fuelling, the Honda team turned their attentions to this during qualifying to fully-utilise their endurance knowledge ready for the eight-hour race.
Qualifying in 26th place with an overall combined time of 2’12.058, the Honda squad was in the mix with the rest of the permanent EWC teams and close behind EWC rivals and championship leaders SERT, who qualified 22nd with a time of 2’11.513.
The Suzuka 8 Hours takes place tomorrow (Sunday 30 July) at 1130am Japanese local time (GMT+9).