Michael van der Mark has blown away the opposition with a record pace lap to take provisional pole position for the Musashi Honda squad in the Suzuka 8hr. The young Dutchman set a lap of 2:07.839, beating the nearest opposition, the Yamaha Austria team, by 0.320.
Speaking afterwards, van der Mark admitted that track temperature, which spiked as high as 63ºC, had worked in his favour.
“This afternoon, the track temperature was so high, and everyone was complaining about a lack of grip – on my first outing with a new tyre, my time was ok but the grip just wasn’t there. I got lucky at the end, because the track temperature just dropped a bit and the grip improved.”
“It was one of my best laps around Suzuka, and it was on a race tyre – last year I was close but on a qualifying tyre. I’ve just got a really good felling with the bike this weekend, and we’re in good shape for the race.”
However, the grid is still not set, with the top ten from the session going forwards to a single flying lap superpole battle tomorrow to determine who lines up at the front of the grid for Sunday’s Le Mans style start.
Team Green, Kawasaki’s official entry were third, with Yoshimura Suzuki, with BSB race winner Josh Waters and Suzuki MotoGP test riders Randy de Puniet and Takuya setting lap times within 0.2 seconds of each other.
Fifth was Team Kagayama Suzuki, with the veteran combination of Yuki Kagayama and Nori Haga joined by Moto2 race winner Dominique Aegerter. FCC TSR Honda, with the other Pata Honda WSB rider Jonathan Rea, was sixth.
Honda Racing, the Lincoln based squad formerly known as TT Legends was seventh, the best of the regular Endurance World Championship teams, ahead of Honda Suzuka Racing, the Yoshimura Legends team led by Kevin Schwantz, and Moriwaki Honda, all of whom go through to superpole.
The second Monster YART Yamaha, with BSB racer Tommy Bridewell joined by the Australian duo of Rick Olsen and Wayne Maxwell was in 22nd, and Scotsman Jimmy Storrar was 38th with his Team Motors Events April Moto Suzuki squad.