VICTORY FOR THE HONDA MuSASHI RT HARC PRO
For the second year in a row the MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO team of Takumi Takahashi, Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark won the Suzuka 8 Hour Endurance Road Race.
Yoshimura’s Takuya Tsuda, Randy De Puniet and Josh Waters and Team Kagayama’s Nori Haga, Dominique Aegerter and Yukio Kagayama have finished second and third at the Suzuka 8-Hour race in Japan. Just over 60 seconds separated the Yoshimura #34 GSX-R1000.
Honda Team Asia (Josh Hook/Muhammad Zamri Baba/Dimas Ekky Pratama) riding a Honda CBR1000RR took seventh position.
A heavy downpour of rain just before the scheduled race start meant the start of the 37th edition of the Suzuka 8 Hour was delayed until 1235 local time, resulting in shortened race duration of six hours and fifty-five minutes. As the rain fell, the riders lined up for the traditional ‘Le Mans’ style start and after a typically manic start, it was F.C.C. TSR Honda’s Kousuke Akiyoshi who led the field as the first lap we completed. Although the weather conditions changed from wet to dry, and back again many times during the race.
In a cruel blow, for a second consecutive year the F.C.C. TSR team was hit with misfourtne when Akiyoshi crashed at the 130R corner while leading the race. Despite breaking his leg, Akiyoshi bravely managed to get his bike back to his pit box by which time, the MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO team took over the race lead and Yoshimura Suzuki Shell ADVANCE team of Takuya Tsuda, Randy de Puniet and Josh Waters moved into second place, a position they would hold until the checkered flag. 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 MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO also set the fastest lap of the race – 2’08.620 – courtesy of their number three rider, van der Mark.
It was an early exit for the Legend of Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance of American Kevin Schwantz and teammate Nobu Aoki. Aoki crashed five laps into the race damaging the team’s bike beyond repair. Aoki was transported to the hospital and at this point there have been no updates on his condition.
Monster Energy Yamaha YSP fails to make it on to the podium in the wake of Team Kagayama. Very incisive initially on a wet and tricky track, the Honda Racing with Moriwaki Toho wins fifth place ahead of two other CBR1000RR Honda Suzuka Racing Team, already placed in Top 10 Trial yesterday and Honda Team Asia.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team is the best permanent team with an eighth place finish. Anthony Delhalle, Erwan Nigon and Damian Cudlin have struggled all weekend with grip problems due to their tyres. SERT, who were forced to retire at the Bol d’Or, take their first points at Suzuka. A superb effort by the Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Team allows them to take ninth place, but this was not enough for David Checa, Kenny Foray and Mathieu Gines to defeat SERT. However their result allows them to lead the standings of the FIM World Endurance Championship both for teams and riders.
In tenth position at Suzuka, the Monster Energy Yamaha YART Team also scores its first points of the season thanks to Wayne Maxwell, Rick Olson and Tommy Bridewell. A great challenger early in the race but later delayed by a crash, the Green Team took 12th place ahead of another Kawasaki squad, Bolliger Team Switzerland that consisted of Horst Saiger, Roman Stamm and Daniel Sutter. The Swiss team confirmed its third place in the standings ahead of the Musashi Harc Pro Team who made its entry into fourth position.
Other permanent teams who made the trip to Japan had mixed fortunes. The best placed of these from the start was the Honda Racing Endurance Team who ended up 33rd. This does not fully reveal the performance on the track of Sébastien Gimbert, Julien Da Costa and Freddy Foray, who were delayed mid race by an electrical problem. The victims of a crash in the race and finally deprived of Matthew Lagrive after a big crash in the warm-up, Team R2CL finished 19th with Gwen Giabbani and Gareth Jones.
On course to finish in the top 20 in their first appearance at Suzuka, Team Motors Events April Moto was interrupted by an issue with a water hose. Greegory Fastree Michael Savary and Jimmy Storrar eventually finished 25th. The other two permanent teams present in Japan to make it to the finish were Motobox Kremer by Shell Advance in 31st position and Team Leader Team Flembbo in 41st.
The 37th edition of Suzuka 8 Hours was a mad dash punctuated by several downpours, many falls and twists. It began with the arrival of heavy rains just before the start with the resulting wet track causing a delay to the start of more than an hour. The F.C.C. TSR Honda Team quickly took command with Kosuke Akiyoshi. They stayed ahead for over 100 laps until Akiyoshi, managed to bring the bike home, despite having fractured his femur during a crash. The F.C.C. TSR Honda Team eventually finished in 40th position.
The end of the race was also difficult for Eva RT Trick Star Force Synergy Team. Sat in 7th position, Gregory Leblanc became a victim as his Kawasaki dropped traces of oil on the track. The Eva RT Trick Star Force Synergy Team finally finished 24th and thus out of the points, importantly for Gregory Leblanc who arrived at Suzuka at the head of the riders’ standings.
Another favourite who fell foul of the conditions was the Legend of Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance Team #12 whose race was short-lived. Nobuatsu Aoki dropped a few minutes after he fell when he was fighting with Takuya Tsuda aboard the Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance #34. Qualified in 10th position, Suzuki #12 of Aoki, Satoshi Tsujimoto and Kevin Schwantz did not return to the track.
They said …
Michael Van Der Mark, rider of the Musashi Harc-Pro Team
“The team did a great job and it’s amazing to be on the top step of the podium this year.”
Randy de Puniet, rider of the Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance
“It was not an easy race, but we all gave our best. It was my first time at Suzuka. It is a wonderful experience and I hope to be there next year.”
Dominique Aerterger, rider of the Team Kagayama
“I am very happy to be a part of this edition, but Suzuka was very special because of the weather and the delayed start. Now I’ll have to ask my team to have as much power as the Suzuki Kagayama when I return to Moto2. ”
Yukio Kagayama, rider of the Team Kagayama
“It’s important to see guys like Michael (Van Der Mark) or Dominique (Aerterger) on the podium of this race. This shows the interest of riders who are the future of MotoGP have for the Suzuka 8 Hours.”
FIM Endurance World Championship Point Standings (after 2 of 4 rounds):
1. Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin, 62 points
2. SRC Kawasaki, 55
3. Team Bolliger Switzerland, 45
4. TIE, MuSASHI RT Harc-Pro/Team Motors Events April Moto, 35
6. National Motos, 32
7. Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance, 29
8. Team R2CL, 26
9. Team Kagayama & Verity, 25
10. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, 23