FCC TSR Honda, winners of the 2011 edition and already in the lead after the tests at Suzuka in early July, are still in control after the practice sessions conducted in Japan today for the 2012 Suzuka 8 hours. On board the Honda, Jonathan Rea, Kosuka Akiyoshi and Tadayuki Okada wrapped up the second session with a lap in 2’09.523, just ahead of the two Suzukis entered by the Yoshimura Racing Team and the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, who are practically neck and neck.
On the Japanese GSX-R, Leon Camier, Josh Waters and Nobuatsu Aoki lapped in 2’09.639, a smidgen faster than the French Suzuki ridden by Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Yukio Kagayama in 2’09.684. Only these three teams managed to creep under the 2’10 mark.
The Honda Musashi RT Harc Pro with 2010 winners Takumi Takahashi and Ryuichi Kiyonari on board in the company of Hiroshi Aoyama, and the Monster Energy Yamaha YART ridden by Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Tommy Hill and Noriyuki Haga, make up the top 5 after these free practice sessions for the Suzuka 8 hours, third round of the 2012 FIM Endurance World Championship.
The BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent is also well up the field. Sébastien Gimbert, Erwan Nigon and Damian Cudlin chalked up a 2’10.330 lap, coming in sixth in today’s practice session. Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube played it safe, scoring the twelfth best time. David Checa and Kenny Foray are on a mission to bring back points from Japan after their disappointment at the 8 Hours of Doha in June. The French official Yamaha will have to manage without Matthieu Lagrive, who underwent surgery a few days ago for a torn ligament in his elbow.
A further four permanent teams will be taking the start at this 35th edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours. Half-way up the leader board after these first practice laps we find the Kawasaki of Bolliger Team Switzerland and the Honda TT Legends. For its first outing in Japan, the Suzuki R2CL is finding its marks and currently lying beyond the 40th spot. For Team Flembbo Dijamant Serbia, the learning curve is looking a little steeper, as they are currently bringing up the rear.
The first qualifying practice sessions will take place tomorrow morning in Suzuka, where the forecast is for more sunshine and a temperature of 35°C.
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