Suzuki 8-Hour preview
Former BSB star outguns Motogp & WSB regulars
He may have left BSB under a bit of a cloud, but that didn’t stop Ryuichi Kiyonari showing a host of WSB and Motogp superstars the way around Suzuka in the latest round of testing for the 8-Hour race.
Riding for the Moriwaki Motul Honda team the three-time MCE British Superbike champion was joined by former Moto2 race-winner Yuki Takahashi and Honda BSB rider Dan Linfoot with the three men delivering a surprise performance on the last day of action at the official Suzuka 8-Hour test to beat the factory bikes to top honours.
Despite not being one of the fully Hrc-supported Honda squads at this year’s race, Kiyonari nonetheless brings a huge amount of experience to the squad that he regularly competes with in Japanese Superbikes. A front-runner for them in that series this season, he’s also the most successful rider in 8-Hour history.
However, while he believes that they have the pace to be more than competitive in the race itself, Linfoot admitted that the timesheets may reflect single-lap performance rather than race pace.
Linfoot said: “Our best lap was on a Pirelli qualifier. My honest feeling is that our potential is better over one lap than a race stint, because I don’t think the Pirellis are as good as the Bridgestones. But everyone is happy and the feeling is good – and the bike is amazing!
“On the first day my kit bag didn’t make it off the plane, though, and on the second day I got 10 laps and 15 on the third. The other boys are a priority, which I understand, but I need to be able to do laps to help out the best I can. Kiyo has been mega for me over there though, really helping me to relax. He speaks much better English when he’s in his own country, and he’s been helping me out with food and where to go and what to do!”
The squad’s exceptional lap time on the last of three days of action leaves them going into the race on July 2830 with an ace up their sleeves, after finishing 0.2 ahead of the full-factory MUSASHI Honda squad of Motogp rider Jack Miller, Moto2 rider Takaaki Nakagami and former double winner Takumi Takasashi.
The factory Yamaha squad of World Superbike duo Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark and Motogp test rider Kats Nakasuga were third, a mere 0.01 behind the second factory Honda squad of FCC TSR, headlined by WSB regular Stefan Bradl.
Despite jumping straight from the Pata Crescent Yamahas at the Laguna Seca round of WSB onto the factory bike at Suzuka, defending champion Lowes says that the test went well.
“Overall it was really positive, and our feeling with the bike is quite good. We finished with a race stint simulation and we felt strong. Our lap times were really consistent.”
Kawasaki Team Green and star rider Leon Haslam was fifth, just ahead of yet more BSB regulars in sixth as Josh Brookes and Sylvain Guintoli made it four manufacturers in the top six with the Yoshimura Suzuki team.
The main race is on Sunday, July 30, live in the UK on Eurosport.
‘My honest feeling is that our one-lap pace is better than our race pace’ DAN LINFOOT
Kiyonari set a blistering pace on the Moriwaki Honda