Heavy downpours delayed the 37th running of the Suzuka 8 Hours, causing the second round of the FIM Endurance World Championship to be shortened to six hours and 55 minutes.
But when the action wrapped up, the Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda team was able to endure the challenging and slick conditions, going on to win the Suzuka 8 Hours for the second consecutive year. The team completed the race in 172 laps.
The Bridgestone-equipped Honda CBR1000RR was piloted by Takumi Takahashi, Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark – the same riders that were on last year’s victorious team. Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda also awarded Bridgestone its ninth-straight victory at the “8 Tai” circuit.
Joining Musashi RT Honda on the Suzuka 8 Hours podium were the pole-sitters, the Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance team (Bridgestone, 172 laps) of Takuya Tsuda, Randy de Puniet and Josh Waters, and Team Kagayama & Verity Suzuki team (Dunlop, 171 laps) of Noriyuki Haga, Dominique Aergerter and Yukio Kagayama.
Following the Le Mans style start where the riders run to their bikes, the F.C.C. TSR team was the early leader. But its rider Akiyoshi then crashed at the 130R corner, breaking his leg. Brave, Akioyoshi was able to get the bike back to the pit box, but by then the Musashi RT Harc-Pro team took over the lead followed by Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance team.
Both teams held their positions until the end of the race.
Bridgestone reports that incidents throughout the second half of the race resulted in the Safety Car being required numerous times, but in the final two stints Michael van der Mark and Takumi Takahashi held their nerve to secure glory for their team once more. On their way to victory, the team also set the fastest lap of the race – 2:08.620 – courtesy of their number three rider, van der Mark.
Shigeki Honda, Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda representative, says: “We are very happy to have won the race for a second consecutive year. On behalf of all team and riders I would like to say thank you to Bridgestone for their support and delivering tires with superior performance that our riders used them to their full capability to help secure victory. I believe the performance of the tires in all conditions is major contributor to our victory today and we are very proud to share this success with Bridgestone.”
Rounding out the top five were Monster Energy Yamaha with YSP and TOHO Racing with Moriwaki Honda.