The Yamaha Factory Racing Team set the pace during Thursday's opening practice sessions for the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance race.

Chasing three wins in a row, Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Alex Lowes have been joined by Michael VD Mark (a double winner for Honda) in this year's line-up, the Dutchman replacing Pol Espargaro after the Spaniard's MotoGP switch to KTM.

MotoGP wild-card and podium finisher Nakasuga set the fastest lap of the day, in the opening track session, courtesy of a 2m 7.540s.

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Honda is determined to regain its authority for this year's 40th anniversary event, fielding MotoGP's Jack Miller and Moto2's Takaaki Nakagami alongside triple winner Takumi Takahashi at HARC-PRO.

HARC-PRO were quickest in FP2, but 0.216s behind Nakasuga's morning time on the combined results. The Yoshimura Suzuki team of Takuya Tsuda, Sylvain Guintoli and Josh Brookes were third (+0.871s) quickest.

The factory-supported F.C.C. TSR Honda team suffered a late blow to its line-up when Stefan Bradl was prevented from travelling to Japan due to an ear infection. Josh Hook has been called up to replace the Red Bull Honda WorldSBK star, alongside Moto2's Dominque Aegerter and former GP racer Randy de Puniet.

TSR were fourth fastest on Thursday, just ahead of the official Kawasaki entry of Leon Haslam, Kazuma Watanabe and Azlan Shah, who made it four manufacturers in the top five and were the final team under one-second from the top.

Practice continues on Friday, when the first qualifying sessions will also take place. Suzuka is the final round of this year's FIM World Endurance Championship.