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Jul 21, 2015 - 07:06 AM
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Yamaha Hunts for Glory at Suzuka 8 Hours
Posted by: newsla on Jul 21, 2015 - 07:03 AM
Yamaha Hunts for Glory at Suzuka 8 Hours

Yamaha Hunts for Glory at Suzuka 8 Hours Motorsport fans can draw a sigh of relief, after waiting for more than three months the second round of the 2015 FIM Endurance World Championship is about to kick off at the famous Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture, 23-26 July.

All eyes are on Yamaha, which similar to last year will be represented by three top teams. Reigning World Champions GMT94 Yamaha, the Monster Energy Yamaha Austria Racing Team and a special Factory team, especially set up for competition in the Suzuka 8 Hours, are in Japan for the 38th edition of the "Coca-Cola Zero" Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race and can't wait for the prestigious event to start.

Following an impressive test session that saw them lead the scoreboard, race fans and media across the world are looking forward to seeing the Yamaha Factory Racing Team in action, with a line-up consisting of All Japan Road Race Champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga and MotoGP riders Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith.

Nakasuga is one of the top Yamaha riders in Japan and his vast experience at the Suzuka circuit with the Yamaha YZF-R1 will be of great help to Espargaró and Smith who will make their first appearance in the Endurance racing scene.

Riding a factory machine specially built to compete in the Suzuka 8 Hours, they hope to give Yamaha its first victory in this event in 19 years and its fifth in the race's history.

However, the factory team is not the only Yamaha team with promise. As one of the racing teams to competing throughout the entire Endurance World Championship season, GMT94 Yamaha has a lot of experience and has not been sitting still. Since the end of the first round in Le Mans, the French team have put in place a lighter and lower fuel tank and improved the electronics to be fully prepared for the Suzuka challenge.

Last year's drama-filled Suzuka 8 Hours race saw GMT take the lead of the World Endurance Championship after the start was delayed due to heavy rain, leaving the race reduced to just under seven hours. David Checa had a less than perfect opening, but he and his teammates Kenny Foray and Mathieu Gines made a strong recovery to take a respectable ninth place at the line.

This year they hope to repeat their previous successes at the Japanese circuit of a second place in 2013 and a third place podium finish in 2012 in order to move up from fourth place in the standings and defend their World Championship title.

The Monster Energy Yamaha Austria Racing Team (YART) has also been working hard and looks forward to seeing Broc Parkes return, as he fills in for the injured Max Neukirchner.

Parkes gave a brave performance in last year's race as a part of the YSP team, alongside Nakasuga and Australian rider Joshua Brookes, to finish the Suzuka race just off the podium in fourth position.

This year the Australian rider will be joined by Sheridan Morais and Iván Silva as they set out to secure a top result and move up from 15th place in the championship standings.

Katsuyuki Nakasuga - Yamaha Factory Racing Team rider "This season I am serving as a factory rider for the first time in an attempt to be the first rider ever to win four consecutive titles in the premier class of the All Japan Road Race Championship, while using the new YZF-R1. I am very glad that I am being given another new challenge of competing on the factory team in the Suzuka 8 Hours, which I am excited about like never before. I am also looking forward to competing together with two such outstanding riders as Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith, and I feel this will be a good opportunity for me to improve my racing skills. Of course, I will be going for nothing less than the win. I will work to bring an experience of the greatest possible Kando* to the fans that have waited so long for the comeback of the Yamaha factory team and a Suzuka 8 Hours victory. I hope everyone will come to the circuit during race week to cheer us on."

Bradley Smith - Yamaha Factory Racing Team rider "After having the first test in Suzuka and getting my first try on the new YZF-R1 I've gotten very excited. It's great to work alongside Pol and Nakasuga. I believe Yamaha Motor CO., Ltd. have done a great job working with Nakasuga whilst preparing the bike. We've already seen such a strong performance in the Japanese Superbike race and having ridden the bike in rainy conditions I can say that it's going to be really competitive. That puts a bit more pressure on us, because the bike is really strong and the team is doing great work, so we have to put our objective on winning this race. We know that endurance racing can be tough, so as a minimum we have to be on the podium, but I would very much like to win this race and take the trophy home to Iwata and give it to everybody there at YMC."

Pol Espargaró - Yamaha Factory Racing Team rider "Even though the weather conditions didn't help us a lot, I think that the first Suzuka test we did after the Assen race was positive. This was mainly because of the bike, which is the most important thing and I was really impressed with the performance of the YZF-R1, it's so similar to my MotoGP YZR-M1! I also felt really comfortable with the Bridgestone tyres that we are going to use and I really liked the track as well, I think that Suzuka is a real motorbike circuit. We only rode a few laps in dry conditions and some more in the wet, but it's still not enough to understand what we will be able to do in the race, although the first impressions are good. Another important point is the work we that did as a team, which was a new experience for me. Together with Bradley, we worked in trying to find the best setting for the bike and understanding how our riding styles are different and also with Nakasuga. At this point we must say that he is the team leader, as he is the fastest and the most experienced out of us three with bike and track. Suzuka is the kind of circuit that you need to ride a lot of kilometres on in order to understand all of its secrets. I'm really looking forward to beginning the race. I want Yamaha to be proud of our work".

Wataru Yoshikawa - Yamaha Factory Racing Team Team Manager

"This time we have assembled a great team that really has me personally very excited. Katsuyuki Nakasuga is a rider with a wealth of experience racing at Suzuka Circuit and in the Suzuka 8 Hours, and in addition to running fast times, we will need his presence as a team leader to help propel us to victory. A critical point for our success will be to have Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith learn from Nakasuga's Suzuka experience and then deliver the performances that they are capable of as such outstanding riders. To do this, we will need to supply them with a highly competitive machine that they will feel good riding on, and to create an environment that enables them to concentrate fully on their racing. The Suzuka 8 Hours is a very tough race, but we are determined to win it and show that we are the strongest team of all. To win, it is also vital that we have the support of the fans. Let's all strive together to get the victory and share the Kando* that it will surely bring."

David Checa - GMT94 Yamaha rider "We have a new package of tyres and bike in Suzuka. We knew that we were really good here before and we did well to get onto the podium two years ago. We will have to see, but we will try to achieve the same this year. My injury has healed and my leg is perfect again. At the last rounds in the French championship I was fighting for the victory so the leg is good and our bike is good. We eagerly await Suzuka, because the level there is really high and we will work as hard as we can to be at the top."

Christophe Guyot - GMT94 Yamaha Team Manager

"Our bike has improved a lot and is completely different from Le Mans, with a new fuel tank and electronics. Many things will be a lot better because for Le Mans it was very difficult for us to be ready in time, and we weren't so we finished in fifth position, but I'm sure we can expect to do a very good race in Suzuka. Of course there will be a lot of top factory bikes in Japan, but I still think it's possible for us to finish between fifth and eighth. With a bit of luck anything could happen, you never know with endurance. At least the condition of the riders is perfect. David Checa is in very good shape and very fast now and at a 100%. Since the last race it's been hard for him to recover, but now he's ok. We are leading the French Championship with Kenny Foray and also David has been fast on the YZF-R1 recently. Mathieu Gines is leading the IDM Superstock 1000 class with Yamaha, so the bike and riders are very fast. They are motivated and excited to go to Suzuka. We only went to the pre-race test with David and Kenny, because Mathieu had some testing to do in Germany. Having two riders is also better when you have many things to test. Suzuka is very special, with a lot of fast riders, so our strategy is to set up the bike perfectly for David and Kenny, as it's impossible to have three men at the absolute maximum of potential and we want to make sure we don't lose out on any points."

Sheridan Morais - Monster Energy Yamaha Austria Racing Team rider "My build up for the Suzuka 8 hour started upon signing for Team Monster Energy YART. This has been a race that I always heard of as a kid and it gained my attention a lot more when I started racing in the World Championship. Obviously we are focused on our Championship which consists of four rounds in total but this is the stand out race by a long way. 
The two-day test was ruled by bad weather so of the five sessions only one of them was dry and we definitely made the best of it. Having never ridden at Suzuka before, I was happy enough to have completed the session in eighth place and we worked well enough to already beat the team's best time from last year by a half of a second. We had plenty of wet riding which was much needed and again we made great steps forward. I am loving our YZF-R1 and have not ridden "her" since the Le Mans 24 hour so getting back on the gas was such a sweet reward to my training and preparations."

Mandy Kainz - Monster Energy Yamaha Austria Racing Team Team Manager

"The pre-race test was quite good for us. It's already the 12th time for us doing the Suzuka race, and in the past we had two teams and ran the factory's team in Suzuka. This year we will just concentrate on the #7 bike, which is ready and the rider's that will be riding it are Sheridan Morais, Iván Silva and Broc Parkes. Despite the rainy experience at the test of Suzuka, we were really surprised of the performance of the tyres, which is really good. We tested them with Iván and Sheridan in the official pre-race test and that also gave the riders an opportunity to learn the track, but unfortunately those days were really wet. We had a lot of rain and were able to do just a few dry laps, but those few lap times were really fast, so the performance of our tyres and bike is great. Broc still needs to test, because he suffered from arm-pump and had an operation. Our bike's engine performance has improved and we have a few horsepower more than in Le Mans, so we have a stronger bike. I am looking forward to the race and I am confident that we can finish this race at the top."

*Kando is a Japanese word for the simultaneous feelings of deep satisfaction and intense excitement that we experience when we encounter something of exceptional value.

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