Niccolò Canepa is a bit of a journeyman in the racing scene. With stints in both MotoGP, Moto2, World Superbike, Superstock 1000, and Supersport 600, the Italian has now found a home in the Endurance World Championship, where he’s riding the factory GMT94 Yamaha R1. In this video, you can see why Canepa has raced in virtually all of the top-tier classes the world has to offer. In this practice session for the Suzuka 8 Hours, Canepa takes you on board as he slices and dices his way past lesser riders – all of whom would likely smoke the biggest hotshot at your local trackday.
The EWC enters its season finale on July 29 with the Suzuka 8 Hours – the largest endurance race for all of the Japanese manufacturers. For 2018 Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha are all fielding factory efforts with riders from both the World Superbike and MotoGP paddocks making a special appearance to take part in this race.
As for Canepa, we promise this video isn’t sped up – he’s simply riding the wheels off his Yamaha. Amazingly, during the practice sessions at Suzuka, Canepa and the GMT94 team aren’t the fastest team. In fact, GMT94’s fastest practice time so far – a 2:09.315 – is more than three seconds off the official Yamaha Factory Racing Team’s time of 2:06.273, set by mult-time Japanese superbike champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga. Nakasuga, along with his World Superbike teammates Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, are the defending champions of the Suzuka 8 Hours and are looking to keep the crown for a second consecutive year.
Among the teams regularly competing in the EWC, YART Yamaha is leading the other FIM EWC full-season teams with a 2:08.005 quickest lap. This was good enough for 7th-quickest of the teams on track in testing, ahead of Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda’s 2:08.070 best lap. F.C.C. TSR Honda France set a 2:09.186, ahead of GMT94 Yamaha, and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (2:10.581).