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YART Yamaha Aiming for Dream Suzuka Podium

YART Yamaha Aiming for Dream Suzuka Podium

The Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team are looking to achieve the dream of a podium whilst also maintaining their title ambitions at the legendary Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan, Round 3 of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship, on the 4th-6th of August.

The YART Yamaha rider lineup of Karel Hanika, Niccolò Canepa, and Marvin Fritz will spearhead Yamaha’s attack at the 44th Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race, plus their R1 will feature a special livery based on this year’s new bottle design for RS4GP, the flagship product of the Yamalube line of Genuine Yamaha engine oils.

The Austrian squad head into the race weekend full of confidence, leading the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) by one point and buoyed by their victory last time out at the 24H SPA EWC Motos. They also put in an impressive performance at the official Suzuka Pre-Test in July. During the two days, they set a 2'06.813, which was good enough to secure fourth overall on the timesheets while showing superb race pace in both the wet and dry.

The team’s win at Spa was their first 24-hour race triumph since Le Mans in 2009, the season that also saw them lift their last EWC title, and when added to their second place during the opening round of the year at Le Mans, it means the #7 Bridgestone-shod YART R1 has secured 118 points so far in 2023. In such a tight championship battle, Suzuka could prove crucial to their title aspirations with 35 points up for grabs over the weekend, five in the Top 10 Trial and 30 during the eight-hour race.

The YART Yamaha team have finished agonisingly close to the podium at Suzuka in previous years, including a fourth-place finish in their championship-winning 2009 season. In 2022, they were third with an hour to go before a late crash saw them miss out on their dream before mounting an excellent fightback to finish in seventh.

Following that result, the team is determined to make it onto the box in 2023 while ensuring they secure the maximum number of points for the championship. However, they are under no illusions that it will be easy, despite fewer factory teams participating in the race than usual.

This is not only due to the fact that anything can happen in endurance racing but also because the iconic 5.821km Suzuka Circuit presents a truly unique challenge. It is one of the most physically demanding tracks in the world, featuring a figure-of-eight layout, 17 corners, and a mixture of fast, flowing sections that, combined with its highly technical nature, means there is no respite for riders during a lap.

These factors, when added to the infamous weather that always seems to play a part at Suzuka - with intense humidity and temperatures expected to reach over 35 degrees Celsius, plus the ever-present prospect of rain - make it evident why the historic endurance race is often billed as the ultimate test of bike and rider.

The Suzuka 8 Hours schedule kicks off with a day of testing on Wednesday before the track action gets underway in earnest on Friday, with another test session in the morning and a two-hour official Free Practice, followed by qualifying sessions for each rider and then Night Practice. The ten fastest teams from Qualifying participate in the Top 10 Trial on Saturday to decide the grid before the eight-hour race kicks off on Sunday at 11:30 am local time (GMT+9).

Karel Hanika

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“We are really looking forward to Suzuka. We had a really good test here a month ago. Our pace was good, and we had a great feeling with the bike. We have spent the last month working hard on modifying some things, and we will see during testing on Wednesday where we are. It will be tough, as always, with the hot and humid weather, but we have prepared as well as we can, and the conditions are the same for everyone. If we concentrate on doing everything correctly, we should be in a strong position by the end of the race. Anything can happen in endurance, so we need to stay focused and try our best.”

Niccolò Canepa

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“I am excited for the Suzuka 8 Hours, as we have prepared in the best way possible. It is always tough here, as the level of the competition is so high and the track is so demanding. Plus, with the weather conditions being so hot and humid plus the constant threat of rain, it can be tricky. The test went really well, and we are coming here off the back of a victory at Spa, so we feel very motivated and will give it everything to secure the podium.”

Marvin Fritz

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team

“It is finally race week at Suzuka. It feels like a long time since we won at Spa, and I can’t wait to get back into action. It is very hot at the moment, but we feel very positive after such a strong test here a month ago. We also got some time riding in wet conditions, which can be very important here as you never know what the weather will do. We feel ready and confident, plus we know how good our package is. We need to concentrate on our race and make no mistakes; then, we will see where we end up. The podium would be a dream come true, but the most important thing is to secure as many points as possible for the championship.”

Mandy Kainz

Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC Official Team - Team Manager

“Since our first appearance at the Suzuka 8 Hours in 2004, I have dreamt about standing on the podium. After a few fourth places, we were so close last year, so we are determined to make amends this year. As always, it will be tough as we are up against the factory teams that only race here at Suzuka, but we are more focused than ever. We had an excellent Pre-Test, where we found a good setup in both the wet and dry, so we feel confident. Our main aim is to secure as many championship points as possible, but we know that if we stick to our plan, make no mistakes, and give it everything, we have a chance of doing something remarkable.”