Yamaha Factory Racing will start the Suzuka 8 Hours from pole position after a stunning Superpole lap from MotoGP's Pol Espargaro.

Despite being unfamiliar with the single lap Superpole format, the Spaniard - the 13th of 20 riders to take his turn on track - blasted to a record time of 2m 6.000s.

That was over one-second faster than his Friday qualifying best and proved too much for the others to match, although team-mate Katsuyuki Nakasuga got to within just 0.059s of Espargaro's effort.

But since only the best lap time from each team determines grid position, the #21 machine took pole by 0.287s over Kawasaki's Kazuki Watanabe, who had been fastest heading into Superpole.

"It was amazing. I'm still shaking! It was a team effort. Everyone has been an amazing but the big thing is tomorrow," said Espargaro.

Retired double MotoGP champion Casey Stoner set the fourth best lap time for the Musashi Harc Pro Honda team (+0.335s), putting them third on the grid.

Two riders from each of the Top 10 teams after Friday qualifying took part in Superpole, which followed the old WSBK format, with each rider going out alone for a single flying lap.

Yamaha Factory Racing fielded Japanese champion Nakasuga and Espargaro, with fellow Tech 3 MotoGP rider Bradley Smith watching his team-mates from the pits.

Musashi Harc RT Pro Honda relied on Stoner and HRC test rider Takumi Takahashi, meaning Michael van der Mark did not participate.

Other familiar names that did take part in Superpole included Moto2's Dominique Aegerter and Ratthapark Wilairot, WSBK's Alex Lowes, BSB's Ryuichi Kiyonari, plus Japanese veterans Yukio Kagayama and Nobuatsu Aoki.

Honda has been beaten just twice in the last 18 years at Suzuka, regarded as Japans most prestigious motorcycle race, while Yamaha's last win was with Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga in 1996.

Espargaro, Smith and Stoner will be making their '8 Hours debut in Sunday's race, which starts at 11:30am.

Suzuka 8 Hours: Top 10 grid positions
1.Espargaro*/Nakasuga/B. SmithYamaha Factory #21 2m 6.000s
2. Watanabe*/Yanagawa/YudhistiraTeam Green #872m 6.287s
3. Stoner*/Takahashi/VD MarkMusashi Honda #6342m 6.335s
4.Tsuda*/Lowes/WatersYoshimura Suzuki #122m 6.516s
5. Kagayama*/Kiyonari/HagaTeam Kagayama #172m 7.990s
6. Aegerter*/K. Smith/HookFCC TSR Honda #7782m 8.076s
7. Yamaguchi*/Wilairot/EliasToho with Moriwaki #1042m 8.382s
8.Nigon*/Deguchi/IzutsuTrickstar Kawasaki #012m 8.950s
9.Uramoto*/O'Halloran/Herfoss Sakuri Honda #712m 9.409s
10. Ogata*/Aoki/KonnoMotomap Suzuki #32 2m 11.019s*Set the team's fastest lap in Superpole.

Superpole lap time by each rider
1.EspargaroYamaha Factory #21 2m 6.000s
2.NakasugaYamaha Factory #212m 6.059s
3.WatanabeTeam Green #872m 6.287s
4.StonerMusashi Honda #6342m 6.335s
5.TsudaYoshimura Suzuki #122m 6.516s
6.LowesYoshimura Suzuki #122m 7.144s
7.TakashashiMusashi Honda #6342m 7.697s
8.KagayamaTeam Kagayama #172m 7.990s
9.AegerterFCC TSR Honda #7782m 8.076s
10.YamaguchiToho with Moriwaki #1042m 8.382s
11.HookFCC TSR Honda #7782m 8.472s
12.KiyonariTeam Kagayama #172m 8.806s
13.NigonTrickstar Kawasaki #012m 8.950s
14.YanagawaTeam Green #872m 9.006s
15.UramotoSakuri Honda #712m 9.409s
16.WilairotToho with Moriwaki #1042m 9.877s
17.O'HalloranSakuri Honda #712m 10.391s
18.DeguchiTrickstar Kawasaki #012m 10.771s
19.OgataMotomap Suzuki #322m 11.019s
20.AokiMotomap Suzuki #322m 11.681s

 

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