2015 Suzuka 8 Hours Results
After a 12-year hiatus, Yamaha entered a factory effort in the Suzuka 8 Hours. This year’s team – Yamaha Factory Racing – featured Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Monster Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP competitors Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro.
Piloting the revamped 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1, the Yamaha Factory Racing team was untouchable from the beginning of the 38th Coca-Cola Zero Suzuki 8 Hours, round two of the FIM Endurance World Championship.
The team dominated practice and qualifying, and carried this momentum into Sunday’s Suzuka 8 Hours, providing Yamaha its first victory in 19 years, and also its fifth in the race’s history. This was also the first time MotoGP riders topped the Suzuka 8 podium since 2002 with Colin Edwards and Daijiro Kato.
Joining Yamaha Factory Racing on the podium were F.C.C. TSR Honda (Josh Hook, Dominique Aegerter and Kyle Smith, +1:17.411) and Team Kagayama Suzuki (Noriyuki Haga, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Yukio Kagayama, + 1 lap).
A few crashes occurred at the 2015 Suzuka 8 Hours, with Casey Stoner’s taking the headlines. The two-time MotoGP Champion came out of retirment to pilot a Honda CBR1000RR for the reigning Suzuka 8 Hours champion team, Musashi RT Harc-Pro. During his Suzuka 8 Hours debut, the Australian crashed during the second hour of the race, breaking his right shoulder and left tibia.
2015 Suzuka 8 Hours Results – Recap (courtesy of Yamaha)
Losing a couple of positions from pole, first rider Nakasuga was quick to carve his way to the front as he chased down the race leaders. By lap three he had climbed up to sixth and kept the pressure on.
He made his move as one by one the competitors went into the pits, showing the incredible potential of the YZF-R1 when he dropped a stunning 2:08.496s on his sixth lap, the fastest laptime of the race. Nakasuga was scheduled to come in after 25 laps but completed an extra two before heading in as the race leader and handing the YZF-R1 to Smith.
The British rider re-entered in third position, but soon moved up when the race leader crashed out of the race. Smith then had to deal with two separate safety car stints before finally taking the front a little more than two hours into the race.
It was then Espargarò’s turn to take the YZF-R1 for a spin. The Spaniard had been consistently fast all weekend and didn’t disappoint today. He and Nakasuga created a comfortable margin before it was time for Smith to ride again.
He was only able to complete a few laps before being called in for a 30 second ‘Stop and Go’ penalty for Espargaró having passed under a yellow flag.
The penalty cost them a position but it wasn’t long before Smith was back in first place and building a healthy gap before handing the bike over to Espargaró for a second time.
He and Nakasuga gave their all in their final riding stints before handing over to Smith for the last leg. The Brit’s final ride of the race was far from simple as a third safety car caused some last-minute tension. Smith was again able to manage the situation perfectly and rode his factory Yamaha YZF-R1 through the last corner to the deafening sound of cheering from the many thousand race fans as he took the chequered flag with a 1:17.411s advantage.
2015 Suzuka 8 Hours Results, Rider Quotes:
Katsuyuki Nakasuga: “As a team we started the race today with a set number of laps per rider and it was a lot of pressure for me to start the race but my first goal was that I had to finish this race. I’ve had times when I ended the race prematurely. I want to thank all the staff, the team and all the fans for their support. I’m really glad that we have won after nineteen years.”
Pol Espargaró: “I’m so happy. It was an unbelievable race. I have to say sorry to my teammates because I made a mistake during the race. We had a stop and go penalty and we lost more than one minute. My teammates were impressive, they were so fast. I gave 200% when I went out on the bike to recover this gap that we lost and we did. It’s impressive what Yamaha as a factory team and a family did after so many years and I’m proud of Nakasuga-san that he rode our the first Suzuka8hours with us and also of Bradley, that we share a pit box in MotoGP. Normally we have many activities and we don’t get to speak often as friends. This weekend was so good for us. I’m happy because I found two great friends, and we got the 8 hours Suzuka race victory.”
Bradley Smith: “Since Tuesday night I went back to my hotel room and felt loaded up with pressure . We stood in front of all the Yamaha staff and mister Kimura and everyone who works inside the factory. We stood on the stage in Iwata and promised that we would come back and give our best and we promised them a first place and we definitely to potentially fail, but we had a great bike and teammates. We had only one small mistake during the race, which in the end was no problem at all. With the speed and the pace that my teammates were able to do, we were able to overcome it. It’s very special, the 60th anniversary for Yamaha, they are leading the MotoGP championship, but second to that was a focus to on the Suzuka8H and I’m glad that we were able to show the true potential of this bike and give them that victory after 19 years that they very well deserve.”
2015 Suzuka 8 Hours Results:
1. YAMAHA FACTORY RACING TEAM, Y-YZF-R1, 8:00’29.708
2. F. C. C. TSR Honda, H-CBR1000RR, +1’17.411 laps
3. Team KAGAYAMA, S-GSX-R1000, +1 lap
4. SUZUKI ENDURANCE RACING TEAM, S-GSX-R1000, +2 laps
5. YOSHIMURA SUZUKI Shell ADVANCE, S-GSX-R1000, +3 laps
6. GMT94 YAMAHA, Y-YZF-R1, +3 laps
7. HONDA ENDURANCE RACING, H-CBR1000RR, +3 laps
8. Honda Suzuka Racing Team, H-CBR1000RR, +4 laps
9. Team GREEN, K-ZX-10R,+5 laps
10. MotoMap SUPPLY, S-GSX-R1000, +5 laps