As the regular Honda TT Legends riders take part in the team’s namesake event, the Isle of Man TT, a stand-in squad is preparing to battle on their behalf at the 8-hours of Doha in Qatar. Samsung Honda riders Michael Laverty and Jason O’Halloran have teamed up with former British Superbike champion Ryuichi Kiyonari for the race, which takes place this Saturday 10 June.
The three riders took to the Losail International Circuit yesterday and this morning for free practice, giving Qatar newcomers Laverty and O’Halloran and four-times Suzuka 8-hour winner Kiyonari a chance to get to grips with the 5.38km track aboard the 2012 ABS-equipped Honda TT Legends Fireblade.
The timed qualifying sessions will take place tomorrow afternoon and evening with the combined times of the riders determining the grid positions for Saturday’s eight-hour race. The race will begin at 17.00 AST (16.00, CEST, 15.00 BST).
Ryuichi Kiyonari Yesterday was a good day and we managed to do a lot of laps on the superbike. I am racing a 600 in the Asia Road Racing Championship at the moment so it was good get used to the big bike before the official qualifying. I have raced here at Qatar before but never in endurance and I am looking forward to doing an endurance race outside of Japan. I’m very happy to be working with the team and I hope we can bring them a good result.
Michael Laverty This is the first time I have ridden at Qatar and it’s my first time on the TT Legends bike so it was good to get time to familiarise myself with both. We just bedded in gently and felt our way around and now I feel comfortable to make some changes to improve ahead of the race. It’s all looking good so far and if we can keep the ball rolling we should be on the pace.
Jason O’Halloran We spent yesterday really just getting to know the circuit. It’s my first time here and my first time racing in heat like this. Considering all of that and the fact that it’s also a new team and a new bike for me, it all went really well. I feel like I’ve got a good grasp of the track and all three of us had similar comments on the bike set-up, so we’ll make imporvements where we can and look forward to the race on Saturday.