Suzuka 8 Hours final qualifying: Yoshimura Suzuki on pole

All Japan Superbike star Takuya Tsuda sets superbike lap record for pole position; Schwantz and Yoshimura Legends team finish “Time Attack” in 10th

2014 suzuka 8 hours qualifying time attack stage
G.HONDA

The now-traditional “Time Attack” final qualifying for the top ten qualified teams—where the two quickest riders on each team attempt a “Superpole” style single flying lap for qualifying (in fact this is where the concept originated)—at Suzuka Circuit for the 2014 Suzuka 8 Hours saw the Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance team’s Takuya Tsuda break the year-old superbike record with a 2:06.703 lap, eclipsing the 2:06.817 set by Katsuyuki Nakasuga during qualifying for last year’s event. Nakasuga, riding for the Monster Energy Yamaha with YSP team this year, had to settle for second spot today with a 2:07.094 effort, while WSBK star Jonathan Rea surprised even himself with a stellar 2:07.398 lap to get his F.C.C. TSR Honda team into third spot. That Rea was able to acclimate himself to the different characteristics of his team’s Bridgestone tires (the World Superbike Championship is a Pirelli spec-tire series) in achieving that time was a testament in itself.

2014 suzuka 8 hours qualifying time attack stage jonathan rea
F.C.C. TSR Honda's Jonathan Rea managed to surprise himself and the rest of the field with a stellar 2:07.398 Time Attack flying lap to put the team in third spot.

“I am very happy with getting the Pole Position and getting the best time,” said an elated Tsuda. “This is my first challenge in the Top-10 Trial and the result is better than I imagined.”

The official Kawasaki factory entry Team Green continued its momentum from yesterday’s qualifying (where they surprised the field by ending up third quickest) by slotting into fourth spot on the basis of All Japan superbike speedster Kazuki Watanabe’s 2:07.752 lap. Meanwhile, provisional polesitter Musashi HARC-Pro Honda couldn’t replicate its form from yesterday, with World Supersport star Michael Van Der Mark only barely able to go quicker than his best on race rubber from the day before, leaving the team in fifth spot. Team Kagayama & Verity put itself into sixth spot despite team leader Yukio Kagayama making a mistake during his Time Attack lap, as fellow team rider (and Moto2 contender) Dominique Aegerter was able to put in a 2:08.483 lap to get them into sixth.

2014 suzuka 8 hours qualifying time attack stage kevin schwantz
Former 500cc Grand Prix World Champion Kevin Schwantz showed that he's still got the racing spark, with the 50-year-old turning a weekend-best 2:10.172 lap. The Legends of Yoshimura Shell Advance team qualified in 10th spot for the Time Attack Stage.G.HONDA

Former 500cc Grand Prix World Champion Kevin Schwantz and the Legends of Yoshimura Shell Advance team ended up in 10th spot, but Schwantz was far from disappointed. The 50-year-old showed he still has that racing spark left by turning his best lap of the 3.62-mile circuit at 2:10.172. “I’m very happy with my lap time today,” said Schwantz. “It’s my best lap of the weekend so far. In the morning session, the team did some modifications and tuning and I got a great lap time, although I made some mistakes. I am here to do real competition and ride hard; it’s not just for enjoyment. I really appreciate the hard work and effort everyone in the team has put in.” Teammate and long-time Suzuki stalwart Nobuatsu Aoki couldn't quite match his lap from yesterday and put in a 2:09.775 lap time.

2014 Suzuka 8 Hours Time Attack qualifying results (top ten teams):

Pos. Team Riders Machine Time
1 Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance Takuya Tsuda (JPN), Josh Waters (AUS), Randy De Puniet (FRA) Suzuki 2:06.703
2 Monster Energy Yamaha with YSP Katsuyuki Nakasuga (JPN), Broc Parkes (AUS), Josh Brookes (AUS) Yamaha 2:07.094
3 F.C.C. TSR Honda Kosuke Akiyoshi (JPN), Jonathan Rea (GBR), Lorenzo Zanetti (ITA) Honda 2:07.398
4 Team Green Akira Yanagawa (JPN), Kazuki Watanabe (JPN), Katsuaki Fujiwara (JPN) Kawasaki 2:07.752
5 Musashi RT HARC-Pro Takumi Takahashi (JPN), Leon Haslam (GBR), Michael Van Der Mark (SUI) Honda 2:07.827
6 Team Kagayama & Verity Noriyuki Haga (JPN), Dominique Aegerter (SUI), Yukio Kagayama (JPN) Suzuki 2:08.483
7 Honda Suzuka Racing Team Daijiro Hiura (JPN), Taketsune Morii (JPN), Takeshi Yasuda (JPN) Honda 2:08.976
8 Honda Endurance Racing Sebastian Gimbert (FRA), Julien Da Costa (FRA), Freddy Foret (FRA) Honda 2:09.224
9 Toho Racing with Moriwaki Hiromichi Kunikawa (JPN), Tatsuya Yamaguchi (JPN), Ryuta Kobayashi (JPN) Honda 2:09.383
10 Legend of Yoshimura Shell Advance Kevin Schwantz (USA), Satoshi Tsujimoto (JPN), Nobuatsu Aoki (JPN) Suzuki 2:09.775