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SBK, Suzuka 8 Hours: Rea on a high, beats the record in qualifying

In the session prior to Saturday's Top 10 Trial, Johnny closes three tenths ahead of Yamaha, Honda HRC picks up the pace, third ahead of Suzuki  

SBK: Suzuka 8 Hours: Rea on a high, beats the record in qualifying


There is one Kawasaki that is flying at Suzuka, seeming almost unbeatable. And it belongs to Johnny Rea. Four years since his last appearance at the Japanese track, the Cannibal is back and hungry for the win. He led the way in Thursday's free practice, and did likewise today, smashing the track record. His ZX-10RR stopped the clock on 2’05”168, showing his rivals exactly how it's done.

An impressive performance by the Northern Irish rider during practice then, and one that sees him gain entry to Saturday's “Top 10 Trial”, or the “Superpole” if we want to call it that, which will establish grid positions for the top ten riders. Johnny will head out last tomorrow, with just one lap in which to put his Kawasaki out front.

Despite the threat of typhoon Jongdari (there's even talk of a possible scheduling changes), Friday at Suzuka saw Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark and Nakasuga forced to settle for second place, a little over three tenths off the pace (+0.322). They'll be working to catch up in Superpole, though the R1 is looking good in terms of race pace.

Team HRC has definitely taken a step forward since yesterday.  Following a disappointing Thursday, where they trailed two and a half seconds behind, Takumi Takahashi has been able to position the Honda third today, though is still almost a second back. The team is still looking for the right amalgamation, also due to Leon Camier's injury, the Brit replaced by PJ Jacobsen. The Japanese rider proved roughly half a second quicker than the American.

The Fireblade SP2 is just two tenths ahead of the Suzuki (+1.140), with Tsuda the fastest in the Yoshimura camp, followed by the Honda of team HARC-PRO, which is fielding Puniet, Aegerter e Mizuno. Taking a look at the permanent entries in the World Endurance championship, we see Yamaha YART is doing the best, lying eighth. Twelfth for championship leader FCC TSR Honda, with the R1 of GMT94 two places further back with Niccolò Canepa, along with Mike Di Meglio and David Checa.  

Translated by Heather Watson

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