Toseland impresses in Suzuka Eight-hour test

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James Toseland has impressed during a two day ‘Audition Test’ in Japan for the prestigious Suzuka Eight-hour race.

Riding at the technical circuit for the first time in his career, Toseland got to ride in both wet and dry conditions, comfortably lapping inside the target lap time for the Japanese track.

Fellow Honda men Jonathon Rea and Ryuichi Kiyonari joined the current World Superbike series leader on track. Unlike Rea and Kiyonari, Toseland had to adapt from WP suspension used in WSB to Showa and from Pirelli to Michelin, but had little problem making the switch.

The outright power of the bike compared to his Ten Kate Honda WSB machine was also different with the Suzuka Eight-hour race run under Japan Superbike rules, which don’t use full blown Superbikes and run standard engine internals.

Toseland’s best time set on race tyres was within half a second of last year’s pole, but it was his pace during race simulations which seriously impressed Honda bosses, making him top of their list to ride in the prestigious July Eight-hour event.

Speaking to MCN from Japan, Toseland said: “I got down to a 2min 9sec lap on a race tyre and last year’s pole was a 2min 8.5sec on a qualifier so I was happy to only be 0.5 off pole on race rubber first time out. The target time was 2m 11.6s so I was well inside that.”

“I’ve really enjoyed the test and I like going to new circuits and see it as a personal test as to how quickly I can learn the track. There are some really tight chicanes and the Japanese guys are really strong through these parts of the track.

“I got with a couple of them to see their lines, but just being on track and riding for two days is good for me.”

Toseland will complete the final part of his Suzuka Eight-hour audition today (Friday) with a fitness test, which involves press ups, agility test and timed shuttle runs.

Toseland is known as one of the fittest riders in WSB said: “I was nervous about riding in front of the Japanese, but I have to admit I’m not too worried about the fitness test.”

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider