2013 Suzuka 8 Hours Tire Analysis
The 36th edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan wrapped up this past weekend with success once again for a bike donning Bridgestone tires.
This was following Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda’s win with pilots Takumi Takahashi, Leon Haslam, and Michael van der Mark at the controls of the CBR1000RR Fireblade.
The win was the fourth straight win for Honda, and the eighth straight for Bridgestone. Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team’s second place ensured a 1-2 at the top of the podium for the world’s largest rubber goods manufacturer.
2013 Suzuka 8 Hours Qualifying Report
In typical fashion for the Suzuka 8 Hours, round two of the 2013 FIM Endurance World Championship, conditions for this year’s race weekend were very hot with ambient temperatures of up to 34°C recorded in Friday’s qualifying session.
However, sudden rain just before the start of qualifying meant the format was changed to a 40-minute top-10 shootout instead of the usual Superpole session. At the end of qualifying it was the MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA –YART team (Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Broc Parkes, Josh Waters) that seized pole position with a time of 2:06.812. Second on the grid and first of the Bridgestone-supported entries was Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team (Takuya Tsuda, Nobu Aoki, Josh Brookes) who qualified just 0.153 seconds behind the pole-sitters.
2013 Suzuka 8 Hours Race Report
After the traditional “Le Mans” style start, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Takuya Tsuda got a great getaway to lead into the first corner. In the first stint of the race, MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda’s Takuma Takahashi kept a strong and steady pace to assume the lead, while F.C.C. TSR Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari showed good speed to work his way up to second place in the first stint having started from fourth place.
Tragedy struck the reigning winners during the third stint when Kiyonari had an incident in the Degner Curve and despite getting the bike back to the pits, the team had to retire.
Drama also struck the Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team who had to endure a penalty for speeding in pit lane, while Brookes also had an incident during the fourth stint but managed to keep the bike running to keep his team’s hopes of a podium alive.
Fittingly the end of the race also ended in dramatic fashion as light rain fell during the last 30 minutes, slowing the pace considerably and resulting in the riders having to quickly decide to keep running on slick tires or switch to wets.
Some top riders changed to wet tires during this time, but in the end, the leading MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda kept running on its Bridgestone slick tyres with Takahashi at the controls and crossed the finish line for a memorable victory.
The Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team overcame its difficulties to finish a valiant second place ahead of fellow Suzuki outfit Team KAGAYAMA who rounded out the podium in third place.
Shinji Aoki (Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development Department) says: “I would like to congratulate MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO on their victory in what were difficult conditions, and would also like to say well done to the Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team who claimed second place despite an incident-packed race.
“Today’s race was quite tough for us due to the highly variable track conditions that featured track temperatures ranging from a high of 58°C to a low of 38°C and a dry track surface that turned wet due to late rain. Even through these changeable track conditions, the winning MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO team managed to win the race on just one specification of tire, which proves that Bridgestone tires are able to operate over a wide range of conditions and I am pleased that the teams we supported believe in this capability of our tires. I am very proud that Bridgestone has supported the winning team at Suzuka for the last eight years.”
Shigeki Honda (MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda Representative) says: “We are very happy to have won the race a second time following our first victory in 2010. On behalf of all our staff and riders I would like to say thank you to Bridgestone for their support; we believed in the performance of these tires and used them to their full ability to help secure the win. I believe the performance of the tires is the one of the reasons we got the victory today and we are very proud to share this title with Bridgestone.”
Weather: Dry-Wet. Ambient 30-34°C; Track 38-58°C (Bridgestone measurement)