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Suzuka 8 Hours: ‘More to come’ - Stoner

“I'm very happy about the lap time and I can say that there are still more possibilities for improvements” - Casey Stoner.
Friday at the Suzuka 8 Hours saw retired double MotoGP champion Casey Stoner take part in his first two-wheel qualifying since Valencia 2012.

With each rider in a team getting their own sessions, the Australia showed few signs of cobwebs as he went straight to the top of his Q1, then claimed second place behind Kawasaki's Kazuki Watanabe in Q2.

Stoner - the star signing for the factory Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda team, as it seeks to win a third Suzuka 8 Hours in a row - finished the day as one of only four competitors to break the 2m 7s barrier and was the fastest CBR1000RR rider.

The 29-year-old set the fourth best lap time of the day, just in front of current MotoGP stars Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith, who are making their Suzuka debuts with Yamaha.

"Our machine setting is heading toward a good direction so overall it was a very good day for us,” Stoner said.

“We didn't have enough time to actually gasp the machine yesterday, and there were many machines out in the track, so it was quite difficult for me to get the actual feeling of the machine but today turned out to be very profitable for the team and us.

“I'm very happy about the lap time and I can say that there are still more possibilities for improvements. This is all because of the hard work of everyone in the team and I am very thankful for that."

Stoner is sharing a bike with WSBK star Michael van der Mark and HRC test rider Takumi Takahashi, the race winners for the past two years.

"Today was a very stressful day for me,” said the young Dutchman. “We were working on the set up of the machine since yesterday but I still feel that there is more to be done. I also couldn't do enough laps so I myself was not quite satisfied with the result but as for the team, I think we are very strong and Casey is very fast so if we get a little more consistency then we have nothing to worry about. We need to work a little more on the set-up and reach lap time consistency."

The top 10 places on the grid will be decided in Saturday's Superpole session, with Stoner taking part in his first motorcycle race since 2012 on Sunday.

Suzuka 8 Hours: Top 10 teams through to Pole Shootout
1. #87 Team Green Yanagawa/Watanabe/Yudhistira (Group A)
2. #12 Yoshimura Suzuki Tsuda/Lowes/Waters (Group B)
3. #21 Yamaha Factory Racing Nakasuga/Espargaro/Smith (Group A)
4. #778 FCC TSR Honda Hook/Aegerter/Smith (Group B)
5. #634 Musashi RT Harc-Pro Takahashi/VD Mark/Stoner (Group A)
6. #71 Sakurai Honda Herfoss/O'Halloran/Uramoto (Group B)
7. #17 Team Kagayama Kagayama/Haga/Kiyonari (Group A)
8. #01 Trickstar Deguchi/Izutsu/Nigon (Group B)
9. #104 Toho with Moriwaki Yamaguchi/Elias/Wilairot (Group A)
10. #32 MotoMap Supply Konno/Aoki/Ogata (Group B)

Unofficial top 10 riders list:
Ranking by best lap time set during qualifying
1. Watanabe Kawasaki 2m 6.656s
2. Nakasuga Yamaha 2m 6.877s
3. Tsuda Suzuki 2m 6.958s
4. Stoner Honda 2m 6.963s
5. Espargaro Yamaha 2m 7.075s
6. B. Smith Yamaha 2m 7.308s
7. Kagayama Suzuki 2m 7.594s
8. Yamaguchi Honda 2m 7.622s
9. Lowes Suzuki 2m 7.717s
10. Aegerter Honda 2m 7.798s

Tagged as: Honda , Casey Stoner , Suzuka

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