Suzuka 8 Hours
Suzuka 8 Hour Pole-setter Yoshimura Suzuki has taken sixth at the third round of the World Endurance Championship in Japan after two crashes robbed the favourites and defending champions of victory.
Team riders Daisaku Sakai, Nobuatsu Aoki and Yukio Kagayama finished with 211 laps, four down on eventual winners MuSASHI RT HARC-PRO Honda after an incident-packed and hot, sun-blessed race that saw the Suzuka 300km winners heroically charge back against the odds.
MotoGP test rider Sakai – a member of the SERT Albacete World Endurance-winning team in May – was unlucky and fell twice: He crashed early on battling with FCC TSR Honda’s Kosuke Akiyoshi, rejoined the race in fourth; and then continued without pitting until he handed the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 over to Yukio Kagayama at 12.27.
An hour into the race, the team held third position behind MuSashi HARC Pro Honda and Keihin Kohara RT Honda after FCC TSR Honda rider Akiyoshi was penalised for ignoring a yellow flag.
Kagayama – who currently races for the Worx Crescent British Superbike team in the UK – improved the team’s position to second place on the leaderboard after overtaking Keihin Kohara RT Honda’s Makoto Tamada after one-and-a-half hours of intense racing. And, after two hours, Nobuatsu Aoki – who took over from Kagayama, and is also a Team Suzuki MotoGP test rider – took the lead of the race, pitting at 14:27 and handing over to Sakai, who kept the Yoshimura Suzuki ahead for almost 30 minutes before Kiyonari got past again.
Sakai then suffered from a second crash at the infamous ‘S Curve’ and had to pit again; the team rejoining the race in ninth position, but they continued to fight back to a sixth overall.
Top Suzuki finisher was the PLOT FARO PANTHRA GSX-R1000-mounted team of Deguchi, Yasuda and youngest rider Kodoma; who got the final stint in the race – and brought the team home in fourth position overall.
Suzuka 8 Hours Results:
1. MuSASHI RT HARC-PRO (Honda – R Kiyonari/ T Nakagami/ T Takahashi) – 215 laps.
2. Keihin Kohara Racing Team (Honda – S Ito/ M Tamada) – 214 laps.
3. FCC TSR Honda (Honda – K Akiyoshi/ J Rea/T Takahashi) – 213 laps.
4. PLOT FARO PANTHERA (Suzuki – O Deguchi/ T Yasuda/ Y Kodama) – 212 laps.
5. TEAM PLUS ONE (Honda – S Iwata/ Y Teshima) – 211 laps.
6. Yoshimura Suzuki with ENEOS (Suzuki – D Sakai/N Aoki/ Y Kagayama) – 211 laps.