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31-07-2011 at 20:00: Waters Leads Aussie Contingent at Suzuka 8 Hour

Josh Waters and the Yoshimura Suzuki Team have shown they have the speed to factor at the front of the field in this weekend’s Suzuka 8 Hour race in Japan.

The 2009 Australian Superbike Champion looks to have found speed and a comfortable setup on the bike he shares with teammates Yukio Kagayama and Nobuatsu Aoki.

The trio turned in the fastest lap in practice yesterday despite a weather-interrupted schedule, their 2:10.336 lap just edging out two all-Japanese teams, including the 2010 winners, in second and third.

Today’s on-track sessions saw further free practice followed by qualifying, where Waters finished his first of two sessions as the third-fastest rider.

Waters’ 2011 campaign has seen him explore a number of opportunities abroad, and the experience in World and AMA Superbikes in both racing and testing capacities should serve him well as he tackles the renowned endurance race.

“I was third in my group with our biggest competitors being TSR Honda and RT Harc-Pro but we are overall fastest,” said Waters.

“I still have one more session for today; because of the rain yesterday we are focusing on doing the laps. Either way we are still in the top ten and will be a part of the Top 10 Shootout tomorrow.

“It is a long track and it takes over 2 minutes to complete a lap over the 6 km distance. One of the main differences is there are so many riders. There are over 50 on track which I’m not used to but it makes for great experience.

“I am really lucky having two teammates that both race for Suzuki and have similar set up to me. They both have a lot of experience which I can definitely benefit from.”

Wayne Maxwell and Jamie Stauffer are determined to make their mark as an all-Aussie team and got off to a solid start in spite of yesterday’s tough conditions.

The Team Honda duo, running under the Honda Dream RT Sakurai Honda banner this weekend are making their way up the timesheets today after further refining the bike to a balance they both enjoy.

Placed 7th after the first qualifying session, Maxwell said the pair were eager to ensure a place in the top 10 with another solid run to end the day.

“We’re getting there with the bike, we’re 7th with a session to go and aiming to make the top 10 shootout tomorrow,” said Maxwell.

“It’s an amazing track and so different from anything in Australia but I find it suits my riding style. We’ve had some setup difficulties this weekend but we’re learning more about the bike each time we head out onto the track and are confident we’ll be ready for the race.”

Stauffer said the atmosphere made Suzuka a favourite place to race.

“The track is fantastic and it’s an awesome atmosphere,” he said. “It’s great to be here with a few familiar faces too. Wayne is doing a great job and we’re focused on chasing down Josh who’s riding well a bit further up the timesheets.

“The heat hasn’t hit me too hard, it was certainly hotter when we were here for testing and we were prepared for the conditions to be a lot tougher.”

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