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Suzuka Eight-Hours: Rea, Kiyonari top first practice

Last year’s winner FCC TSR Honda is staking its claim from the word go in the 36th edition of the Suzuka Eight-Hours. In this morning’s free practice, Jonathan Rea and Ryuichi Kiyonari powered the Japanese Honda to the top of the time sheets with a lap in 2’08.812. But their European rivals are not far behind.

The BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent signed the second best lap of the free practice in 2’08.833, just ahead of the Monster Energy Yamaha YART, crewed by 2012 pole-position scorer Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Broc Parks and

Josh Waters, with a lap in 2’08.972.


However, it looks like being a tough race for the factory BMW. Damian Cudlin hurt his ankle badly during the first free practice session this morning and Jason Pridmore was called in earlier in the week to replace Sylvain Barrier who injured himself in tests at Suzuka earlier this month, so only Erwan Nigon knows the BMW inside out.

Only these three teams managed to break the 2’09 barrier today over the 5 821 m Suzuka track. They are followed closely by a posse of Japanese teams with laps of 2’09. The Honda of Leon Haslam's Musashi RT Harc-Pro, Josh Brookes' Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team, the Honda Team Asia and the BMW of Sweets Labo Motorrad with Hokkaido are all currently ahead of the Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube, Team Kagayama and the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team.

It has been a gentle start for the official French Yamaha and Suzuki, but Team Kagayama had a crash in the second session with Kevin Schwantz in the saddle. Among the other permanent teams present in Japan, the Suzuki of Team R2CL chalked up the best performance in 2’12.943 ahead of the Kawasaki of Bolliger Team Switzerland, Honda TT Legends, the Kawasaki of the Flembbo-Leader Team and the Suzuki of Motobox Kremer by Shell Advance, which is making its Suzuka début.

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