The Honda TT Legends will be seeking redemption this weekend at Suzuka 8-Hours, the third of five rounds in the 2011 FIM Endurance Championship.
The team took fifth at the opening round, the 24-Hours Bol D’Or France, but didn’t have much luck at 8 Hours of Albacete in Spain. With 50 minutes remaining in Spain, the Honda TT Legends team had to retire due to John McGuinness crashing.
Between Spain and Suzuka, though, the Honda TT Legends put on an impressive performance at the Isle of Man TT, with McGuinness winning the Senior TT and Dainese 6-Lap Superbike races.
But some challenges lay ahead in Suzuka; the track is "virgin territory" for the Honda TT Legends team, which will consist of McGuinness, Keith Amor and Cameron Donald. with Donald standing in for injured Steve Plater.
Honda TT says only five other permanent EWC teams will take part in the notoriously difficult race, with 46 specialist Japanese teams making up the rest of the field – each one with their sights set firmly on victory.
John McGuinness (Honda CBR1000RR) says: "I’m really excited but I am also really nervous about the whole job. I’ve raced all over the world but I’ve never raced in Japan so it’s completely new territory for me. By all accounts Suzuka is an amazing race and it’s great to get the chance to take part.
"We’re up against some of the most experienced teams in endurance, but I’m really pumped up for it. I’ve heard horror stories about the heat and the humidity but you can’t worry about it until you get there. It’s a suck it and see situation but I’m sure it will be a brilliant experience whatever the outcome."
Keith Amor (Honda CBR1000RR) says: "I am really honoured to get the chance to race in such a classic event – that is a massive thing in itself. Having said that, if I’m being completely honest I am incredibly nervous. I know that a lot of riders struggle with the heat and the conditions, even riders that are used to doing it, so I am apprehensive, scared, excited – everything rolled into one. We are not going into this race with any big expectations, I think we just have to enjoy the experience and the overall event and see what happens."
Cameron Donald (Honda CBR1000RR) says: "The Suzuka 8-hour is a something I have dreamed of doing since I was a kid so to get the chance to take part with the Honda TT Legends is incredible. It’s going to be a big challenge to go up against the regular teams from Japan as well as the other EWC teams, but I am just so excited about the opportunity. I can’t wait to get out there and see what we can do."
Neil Tuxworth (Honda TT Legends Team Manager) says: "Without a doubt this is going to be the most difficult EWC event of the year. None of the riders have ridden the circuit before and we will be up against specialist Japanese teams and riders who have raced here many times before. In fact, the majority of teams taking part are Japanese and some of those have factory support. It is also very humid and we don’t have any data to work with. Having said all that, we are very positive and we are really looking forward to the experience. We have no great expectations. Our objective is to finish inside the top ten, which will be very hard and if we can do that we’ll be happy."
Suzuka 8-hour event schedule (in Japan Standard Time)
Thursday, July 28
- 13:30-14:30 Free Practice 1
- 15:40-16:40 Free Practice 2
Friday, July 29
- 09:00-10:00 Free Practice
- 11:00-11:30 Timed Qualifying 1st Rider
- 11:45-12:15 Timed Qualifying 2nd Rider
- 12:30-13:00 Timed Qualifying 3rd Rider
- 15:15-15:45 Timed Qualifying 1st Rider
- 16:00-16:30 Timed Qualifying 2nd Rider
- 16:45-17:15 Timed Qualifying 3rd Rider
Saturday, July 30
- 14:15-15:00 Free Practice
- 15:30-16:45 Top 10 Trials
Sunday, July 31
- 08:00-08:30 Warm Up
- 09:50-10:30 Starting Procedure
- 10:30-18:30 8 Hours Endurance Race