Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Alex Lowes have tested at the Suzuka circuit previously this year and, as a result, both were quickly up to speed today, despite both ambient and track temperatures significantly exceeding those experienced during the three-day test back in June.
The third member of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team, Michael van der Mark, missed the pre-race Suzuka test due to an injury sustained during the Misano WorldSBK round in June. However, the 26-year-old showed his experience today, posting consistently quick times after only a few familiarisation laps aboard the endurance specification Yamaha YZF-R1 he last raced twelve months ago.
The main goal for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team in the first of two test sessions today was to confirm bike set-up in the much hotter conditions experienced today, with positive results. Nakasuga, Lowes and van der Mark ended the opening session in second place on the timesheet and satisfied with the progress made.
For today's second test session the focus shifted to the all-important pit stops, of which there will be a minimum of seven during Sunday's 8 Hour race. All three riders practiced both handing over to and taking over from a teammate at the pit stop, which also gave the technical crew a number of opportunities to perfect their already rapid pit stop procedure.
Overall, it proved a positive opening day for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team, who will be back in action and looking for further improvement in the two final test sessions tomorrow.
The YART Yamaha EWC Team also enjoyed a positive first day in Suzuka, with Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz and Broc Parkes picking up where they left off at the pre-race test ten days ago to finish the first test session in fifth position. The YART Yamaha trio improved their pace further this afternoon, to end the second and final session third on the timesheet, and just 0.792s from the top spot.