Kawasaki secured it’s first Suzuka 8H Endurance pole since Anthony Gobert put his ZX7R on pole position in 1995.
Because of overnight rain and threat of incoming typhoon, traditional Top 10 one lap qualifying shootout was replaced by normal 40 minutes qualifying session. This change had zero effect on Jonathan Rea and Team GREEN Kawasaki, who managed to set a blistering lap time of 2:05.403s to secure pole position by almost 8 tenths of a second. This lap time was a bit slower than 2:05.168s, which Jonathan set in Friday’s official practice and set the new lap record of the Suzuka track. Leon Haslam, Rea’s team mate in Kawasaki’s factory team was the only other rider who set the time under 2:06, setting his personal best of 2:05.984s.
Behind dominant Kawasaki squad there was three way battle for second place as teams from second to fourth place were only half a tenth apart. Red Bull Honda team won that three way battle with LCR Honda MotoGP rider Takaaki Nakagami setting a lap time of 2:06.127 on #33 bike. He was followed by Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes, who put #21 Factory Yamaha team in third position with a lap time of 2:06.170, which also ended three year pole streak for the squad, as they couldn’t use the advantage they had in first sector to get closer to the lead. After a late charge by Randy de Puniet, who set a lap time of 2:06.177, #634 MuSaSHi Honda ended in fourth position.
Behind top four it was Yoshimura Suzuki factory squad, courtesy of Bradley Ray’s 2:06.642. Their hopes of finishing closer to top four and potentially even higher were ended by Takuya Tsuda’s crash at the last chicane 22 minutes before the end of qualifying, as the bike was too damaged to be repaired in time. Tommy Bridewell’s factory supported #95 S-Pulse Suzuki squad was in sixth, a tenth off Yoshimura squad, due to late charge from Kazuki Watanabe, while ending half a second ahead of #090 MotoUP Honda team of Isaac Vinales and Tetsuta Nagashima. #7 YART Yamaha team was the fastest of regular EWC teams in eight position, while top 10 was concluded with #19 Moriwaki Honda and #79 Team SuP Honda, which also suffered a crash with 20 minutes to go.
Title contenders, F.C.C. TSR Honda France and GMT94 Yamaha, which are separated by 10 points in EWC standings, ended up in position twelve and fourteen. Suzuka also indicates the last World Endurance race GMT94 Yamaha squad will do, as they will step away from the championship to focus on World Supersport championship in the future.
Top 10 final results:
1. Kawasaki Team GREEN 2:05.403
2. Red Bull Honda with Japan Post 2:06.127
3. Yamaha Factory Racing 2:06.170
4. MuSaSHi Honda 2:06.177
5. Yoshimura Suzuki 2:06.642
6. S-Pulse Suzuki 2:06.756
7. MotoUP Honda 2:07.246
8. YART Yamaha 2:07.387
9. KYB Moriwaki Honda 2:08.128
10. Team SuP Honda 2:08.200
Featured Image Credit: Corsedimoto