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Strong Suzuka Test for YART Yamaha

Strong Suzuka Test for YART Yamaha

The Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team made the most of the two-day official Pre-Test to find a good setup with their R1 in both the wet and dry ahead of the 44th Edition of the legendary Suzuka 8 Hours, finishing fourth on the overall combined timesheets.

The Austrian squad currently lead the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) after securing a second-place finish at the Le Mans 24 Hours and following that up with a sensational victory at the second round of the season, the 24H SPA EWC Motos. It was YART's first victory since the 2020 Estoril 12 Hours and the team's first 24-hour win since Le Mans in 2009.

All of the top teams were in attendance at the test. For YART, who battled in the top three positions against factory teams in last year's race and are currently leading the EWC title fight by just one point, it meant that they arrived in Suzuka as the centre of attention. Cloudy, rainy weather was in the forecast on Day 1 of the test, so the team set out to take advantage of the dry track conditions in the morning. Their first goal was to simply get re-acclimated to Suzuka Circuit's unique layout.

Also, since the tire specification at Suzuka is different from that used in Europe, the team spent time testing and choosing tires for the race weekend. Though they had last year's setup as a base to start from, Suzuka's track surface offers much higher grip compared to European circuits, so the team worked on optimising the electronics and riding position to suit it. After putting in many, many laps by the end of the first session, the two YART machines had set a 2'07.788 and a 2'08.084 to be 4th and 5th overall in combined standings of the A and B groups. They were about 1.5 seconds off the overall leader, Team HRC.

In the second session, rain began to fall midway through and only got stronger, leading to fully wet conditions. Once the track surface was sufficiently wet to collect valuable data, the team went out to check how the electronics and grip felt in the wet. The third session of the day was also wet, so the team only did a few runs. The day's final session was set to be the only night session of the test, but with heavy rain still falling, the team elected not to take unnecessary risks and did not participate.

On Day 2, the sun was shining without a single cloud in the sky, and the forecasted high temperatures would allow the team to test in conditions similar to the always-scorching Suzuka 8 Hours. In the first 75-minute session of the day, Session 5 of the test, each rider took to the track on machines with slightly different settings, including different tires, where they repeated short stints of 5 to 10 laps to check the overall feeling of each. Their lap times got gradually quicker, going from 2:08s at the beginning of the session to a final fastest time of 2'06.813, which was the team's fastest of the test.

For the final session, the team had planned to do some long runs, but they were unable to as several red flags came out early in the session and interrupted proceedings. Their quickest time was a 2'08.044 for 8th overall, about 1.8 seconds off the fastest team's 2.07.892. On average pace, however, YART's lap times were consistently in the 2:08s, and in endurance racing, having a consistent race pace is always key. In the end, YART had a very positive test where they worked well in preparation for the big event in a few weeks, with their quickest lap time from the fifth session ensuring they finished fourth overall on the combined timesheets.

Karel Hanika

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

"In this session, we did short runs of 5 to 10 laps so we could understand the feeling of the tires and electronics. We got good practice riding smoothly in the wet, and we could see that the grip in the wet was good. We gathered a lot of information here, but we still need to work on some things, like understanding the fuel consumption and at what point the tires start to drop. If we could have done some longer runs, we could have checked that, but we couldn't because it rained on the first day. So, I think we'll need to confirm some things in the sessions just before the main race. One other thing to work on was the feeling from the front end. Because Suzuka has a lot more grip than European circuits, there are still some steps we can make to get the full potential from the tires and the bike here, like with the suspension setup. Overall though, I think we're already pretty close."

Niccolò Canepa

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

"It was incredible in that the first exit, immediately yesterday morning, we were on the race pace of last year. This means we are in good shape, and we feel good with the bike, and the base is very good. We wanted to work and try something extra because last year, our rivals were faster than us, so we wanted to at least get closer and try to beat them. But it's not easy when you need to find that last little bit. One thing we want to improve is the stability on the front. I'd like to have better feedback from the front to be consistent in the one-hour stint. After the test, we analysed every single detail because we learned that when we want to win, every detail counts. If we lose a tenth of a second every lap, it would be a very big gap after eight hours. In the end, everything counts, and everything is important to win."

Marvin Fritz

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

"So far this season, YART has been very fast in the first two races, and here, too, from the first session on the first day, we immediately had good lap times and good pace. We were unlucky because yesterday it rained half the day, and today in the afternoon, there were many red flags, so we couldn't do the long runs like we wanted and couldn't try some of the things we wanted to. But you learn from the bad days and not from the good days. Now we have three weeks at home to prepare to be 100% for the race week. We know our team and know our package, and how strong we all are. My teammates were both amazingly fast from the beginning, so we can be confident for the race.

Mandy Kainz

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team - Team Manager

"During these two days, we fine-tuned the bike for the hot conditions in Japan. There was nothing unexpected, only a few small slides for Marvin. We had some heavy rain at the test, but since we're an endurance team, we'd be prepared even for snow! Overall everything went according to plan. We weren't pushing to set qualifying lap times, only working on race pace, so it's a good sign that we were able to set good times, but honestly, I don't think it matters that much for the race. With this test, we could see that we're more or less in a similar position to where we've been in years past. Even with the factory teams here, I think we're definitely in the top five. When we come back for the race weekend, we'll just do our usual plan to make our own race, like we always do. In the test, we saw that YART and Yamaha are working very well together, we've got everything ready, so I can say that we're ready for the race."