Reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea obliterated Pol Espargaro’s pole record by the business end of a second to claim provisional pole for Team Green Kawasaki at the 2018 Suzuka Eight-Hours.
Espargaro’s benchmark of 2’06.038 has stood since 2015 when the MotoGP star was riding for Yamaha but Rea marmalised it with a 2’05.168 on his sole flying lap of the session and was 2.339s faster than Alex Lowes.
Lowes made a mistake and nerfed off Tommy Bridewell but the Devizes BSB star was still only three-tenths behind the Pata Yamaha man and third in his session.
Qualifying positions at Suzuka are taken as an average of all three riders, so Kawasaki smashed it with Leon Haslam posting a 2’06.636 and Kazuma Watanabe hitting a 2’07.865.
Yamaha claimed second place with Kats Nakasuga putting in the second quickest time of the day, a 2’06.263 while Lowes put in a 2'06.620 and Michael van der Mark was in the 2’07s bracket.
Red Bull Honda took third place with a 2’06.775 from Takuma Takahashi and Bradley Ray’s Yoshimura Suzuki were fourth. Ray put in a 2’07.580 and was faster than MotoGP test rider Sylvain Guintoli.
The MuSASHI Honda squad bagged fifth place with ex-MotoGP star Randy De Puniet their fastest man. Bridewell’s S-Pulse Dream Suzuki squad finished in sixth place with the strawberry blonde rider second fastest on a 2’07.939.
YART are the quickest of the regular EWC teams in eighth place, just head of Ryuichi Kiyonari’s Moriwaki team. EWC series leaders FCC TSR are in 12th place, one ahead of GMT Yamaha.
Peter Hickman and the NRT48 team are in 19th place while Christian Iddon and Michael Laverty’s BMW 135 team are in 24th. Iddon had to push in during qualifying one after running out of fuel.
World Supersport regular Stefan Hill was second-fastest in the 26th-placed Team Vital Spirit while Billy McConnell and the R2CL squad are in 37th place.