MOHD Emir Firdaus Hasan and Mohd Zaqhwan Zaidi kicked off their Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8-Hour Endurance Road Race campaign on a strong note in the 4-hour qualifying practice yesterday at the Suzuka International Circuit in Japan.
The Malaysian duo qualified for second spot on the grid out of 58 teams, having recorded their best lap at 2'18.057s behind pole winners, Link Well Racing (2'17.600s) while ADF & ToyBoy came in third fastest with 2'18.747s.
Although pleased to start the race at the front of the pack, the duo were far from satisfied with their lap times yesterday. "Weather conditions were really hot. This caused poor tyre grip and we could not improve much on our lap time," said Zaqhwan.
Emir said: "We are ready to defend our title but judging by this year's entry list, it will be very challenging. It goes without saying, there is a lot of pressure riding on our shoulders."
Senior Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman had a tough outing in the 8-hour qualifying practice. The second rider for Honda Team Asia registered the 15th fastest time, logging his best lap of 2'10.960s in the morning session.
Thanks to teammate Makoto Tamada who timed 2'09.433s among the third riders, Honda Team Asia finished 10th overall in the combined qualifying results, making the cut for today's "Time-Attack", an elimination-based qualifying system to determine the top 10 grid positions, similar to the "SuperPole" used in the Petronas AAM Malaysian Cub Prix.