Rd.3 – Suzuka 8 Hours 2023 – Qualifying

Schedule 2023.08.04
Circuit Suzuka Circuit (Mie)
Rider Gregg Black / Sylvain Guintoli / Etienne Masson


Yoshimura SERT Motul qualified fifth for the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hour Endurance Race, determined to take their mid-season revenge and stay in the title hunt.

The famous Suzuka circuit will host round 3 of the 2023 FIM Endurance World Championship. A major event on the calendar, the 44th Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hour Endurance Race welcomes 50 teams, including several high-performance Japanese teams determined to shine at home. The Japanese circuit’s highly technical track, combined with high temperatures and significant humidity, adds an extra challenge for riders and bikes.

After finishing third at this event last season, Yoshimura SERT Motul, currently fourth in the overall standings with 66 points, is aiming to repeat its strong performance at its home round.

In the first qualifying session on Friday 4th August, the three French riders showed themselves to be very fast from the outset. Gregg Black put in a solid performance, setting a time of 2.06.923 to place him third in his group. Sylvain Gunitoli also held his own with a time of 2.07.201, placing him fifth. Finally, Etienne Masson set his best lap of 2.08.402, going ninth in his session.

The Suzuki riders confirmed their competitiveness in the second qualifying session, which saw significant progress from Guintoli, who set his best lap of 2.06.683, and Masson, who posted a time of 2.07.547.
The average of the team’s two best times put Yoshimura SERT Motul in third place in qualifying, which enabled the team to take part in the Trial Top 10, comprising the 10 fastest qualifying teams.

Guintoli and Black took to the track for the final time trial of the day. With a best lap of 2.06.720, Yoshimura SERT Motul finally secured fifth place and pocketed one bonus point. It is from this strategic position that the Suzuki #12 will line up at the start of the Suzuka 8 Hour Endurance Race on Sunday August 6th at 11.30am.

Yohei Kato – Team Director

We’re happy with the result: third in qualifying and fifth in the Top 10 Trial. The bike is a lot better than it was in the first test. We’ve worked hard and the riders are happy, so we’re ready for the race. But tomorrow we’re likely to have some rain, of varying intensity, and possibly a dry track as well, so the conditions are going to be very complicated! We’re concentrating on teamwork and we should be able to fight at least for the podium, or even victory if the track is wet.

Damien Saulnier – Team Manager

It was a good week and a good qualifying session. We can all be satisfied with third place in qualifying. The riders have a great feeling with the bike. We’ve balanced the team members between the French and the Japanese and the set-up is perfect. The Top 10 Trial is a bit of a gamble because it’s an unusual exercise for Gregg. Sylvain had a bit more experience. We finished in the top five and that’s very positive. We’ve got good energy which we’re going to try to keep going until the end of the race. As we are a few points behind in the championship, we will have to attack to get ahead of our rivals.

Gregg Black – Rider Blue

We worked really well during testing a few weeks ago and especially this week with the team, who improved the bike to make it really competitive in all conditions. Third place in qualifying was a great performance by the whole team. Going under the 2.07 mark is quite satisfying for us Europeans in the EWC. The Top 10 Trial was a first for me and I was a bit stressed, but in the end this fifth place gives us an important point for the championship, it’s a good result. The main thing remains the race, which should be good for us, especially if the weather conditions are tricky. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

Sylvain Guintoli – Rider Yellow

The day started well with a great feeling on the bike in Q2. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the same feeling in the Top 10 Trial, where I was half a second slower than this morning. But the real positive point is the big improvement in the bike compared to the July tests: we’re much better in terms of race pace and tyre wear. We have high hopes for tomorrow, especially as the weather conditions are going to be unpredictable. We have a real chance of a podium finish.

Etienne Masson – Rider Red

We’re really pleased with this result and especially with the work we’ve done on the bike, which performs very well at race pace. It’s the first time I’ve ridden here with Bridgestone tyres, so it took me a while to get used to them. But my team-mates and I had a good qualifying session. With the weather forecast for tomorrow, all the cards will be shuffled and I’m looking forward to the start of the race.