The Honda Racing Endurance squad used today’s second qualifying session to finalise race setup rather than focus on ultimate laptime, but even using race tyres the team continued making good progress with the #111 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, ending the session fifth fastest and just 0.368seconds from pole.

The strategy was set ahead of this weekend to run a more representative setup for tomorrow’s eight-hour race, and has helped the team arrive at a setup which will be part Q1-spec and part Q2-spec, and puts the trio of Gregory Leblanc, Sebastien Gimbert and Erwan Nigon in a strong position headed into the series’ penultimate round.

The weather over the last two days has peaked at a sweltering 31 degrees Celsius, and much the same is expected for tomorrow’s race around the 3.66km Oschersleben track, which starts at 1300h local time.

For all race updates and team news follow @HondaRacingCBR on Twitter.

Jonny Twelvetrees

Jonny Twelvetrees

Team Manager

It was a positive day today and we can be happy that we have closed the gap on both overall fastest lap and average lap whilst not focusing on outright qualifying pace. We took the decision before this weekend not to use qualifying as traditional qualifying, but to focus on race setup. We made some changes to the bike overnight and took a step forward with the front end but made a change to the rear for Q2 that the riders were less comfortable with, but Q2 today allowed us to prove that and puts us in a confident position ahead of tomorrow’s race. We’ll use warm-up to corroborate our final changes and race setup, but we’re feeling positive and we’ve made good progress since Slovakia and Le Mans which we are very pleased with.

Honda Endurance Racing
Gregory LeBlanc

Gregory LeBlanc 111

I’m very happy with this morning’s qualifying session. My goal was a 1m 26.9 and that’s what we achieved. I found 0.5seconds since yesterday’s Q1 session – the track was cooler this morning for my run which made it easier on the tyres but we also found a good feeling on the bike. We changed the setup since yesterday which made it much better for me. We still need to adjust a little but I’m happy. Yesterday the laptime was ok but I didn’t feel so comfortable on the bike but after the changes we’ve improved the pace and it was easier to ride so we made good progress and I think are in a strong position for tomorrow’s race.

Honda Endurance Racing
Sébastien Gimbert

Sébastien Gimbert 111

I’m not happy with today from my side, but as a team to be just 0.36sec off pole is good so we can be pleased with that. I struggled a little with grip with the rising temperature, but also I’m not 100 per cent fit. Last week I injured my left knee whilst training on my mountain bike – it wasn’t a crash, but I felt some shock through it. Now on the bike I’m not totally comfortable and my laptime is suffering. Normally we’re all the same pace the three of us, but this weekend Greg and Erwan have made good laptimes but I’m further off. We could have been further up the grid so it’s a bit tough for me, but overall we can say we’ve made good progress and are in good shape for tomorrow.

Honda Endurance Racing
Erwan Nigon

Erwan Nigon 111

We used a race tyre for qualifying which was our strategy coming into this weekend to get more representative data ahead of the race. Yesterday I was very happy on the bike and the laptime was good, and we made some changes to the bike overnight to try and improve. We improved on the front but I don’t think the rear feels as good so we will go back to what we had. The temperature was again very high today so to push too hard wasn’t sensible, and anyway today was more about confirming our race setup. We’ve reduced the gap to the front a lot since Slovakia and Le Mans and we’re closer to the pace than ever which is very good. We have good race pace, and we’re feeling positive for tomorrow. It’s the penultimate round of the series so I think tomorrow’s race will be the time where the championship reaches a critical point ahead of Suzuka. We’ve made good progress with the team and with the new Fireblade so we’re feeling positive.

Honda Endurance Racing
8 Hours of Oschersleben

Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, Germany

FIM EWC 2018, Round 4

Friday 8 Jun 2018, 12:12 UTC
# Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 GMT94 Yamaha Yamaha 1:26.901
2 F.C.C. TSR Honda France Honda +0.157
3 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Suzuki +0.282
4 NRT48 BMW +0.328
5 Honda Endurance Racing Honda +0.368
6 TEAM SRC KAWASAKI Kawasaki +0.384
7 YART Yamaha Yamaha +0.456
8 Bolliger Team Switzerland Kawasaki +0.914
9 Moto Ain Yamaha +1.016
10 Mercury Racing BMW +1.089
Friday 8 Jun 2018, 07:32 UTC
# Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France Honda 1:27.005
2 GMT94 Yamaha Yamaha 0.085
3 YART Yamaha Yamaha 0.383
4 TEAM SRC KAWASAKI Kawasaki 0.483
5 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Suzuki 0.552
6 NRT48 BMW 0.791
7 Honda Endurance Racing Honda 0.895
8 Yamaha Viltais Experience Yamaha 1.050
9 Mercury Racing BMW 1.135
10 Moto Ain Yamaha 1.213
Friday 8 Jun 2018, 07:28 UTC
# Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 F.C.C. TSR Honda France Honda 1:27.058
2 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Suzuki 0.180
3 GMT94 Yamaha Yamaha 0.181
4 TEAM SRC KAWASAKI Kawasaki 0.227
5 YART Yamaha Yamaha 0.299
6 NRT48 BMW 0.368
7 Honda Endurance Racing Honda 0.394
8 Bolliger Team Switzerland Kawasaki 0.757
9 Mercury Racing BMW 1.261
10 Yamaha Viltais Experience Yamaha 1.417