WA | 8,000Kms
Honda go 1-2 at Suzuka 8 Hour
JUST Bikes 30/07/2012
FCC TSR Honda won the Suzuka 8 hours with a four-lap lead, followed by the Honda of Toho Racing with Moriwaki, and the Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube completing the podium.
Crewed by Jonathan Rea, Kosuke Akiyoshi and Tadayuki Okada, the FCC TSR Honda team’s win was its second in a row at Suzuka.
In qualifying, FCC TSR Honda were bettered by three other favourites for the race: Monster Energy Yamaha YART; Musashi RT Harc-Pro; and Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team, for whom Australia’s Josh Waters was once again riding. Waters partnered Nobuatsu Aoki and World Superbike Suzuki rider Leon Camier on the Yoshimura GSX-R 1000.
This 35th running of the Suzuka 8 Hour endurance event proved tough for many of the pre-race favourites. Katsuyuki Nakusuga, who earned his team the pole position with a breath-taking lap in 2’06.845, crashed the Monster Energy Yamaha YART just over half an hour into the race. A crash by former World Superbike campaigner, Ryuichi Kiyonari, after five hours on the track also put paid to the victory hopes of Musashi RT Harc-Pro, but the team's quickest lap, a 2'07.943, wasn't bettered for the duration of the race.
The Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team suffered an oil leak that ended their race after 185 laps, virtually within sight of the finish, denying Josh Waters the chance of repeating his Suzuka podium from 2011. After threatening for a podium late in the race, the EVA RT Test Type-01 Kawasaki team DNF’d in the final hour with engine trouble after completing 207 laps. The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team was running in second behind the FCC TSR Honda squad at this stage, but slipped down the field after a crash by Vincent Philippe. The defending World Champions, and current FIM Endurance World Championship leaders, eventually managed to finish in 15th place.
Fate also struck the BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent, another contender for the runner-up spot. Australia’s Damian Cudlin was one of three riders on the #99 BMW S1000RR, which was forced back to ninth place, due to a faulty electronic sensor. The French BMW squad finished just ahead of Honda TT Legends (for whom Cam Donald, Mark O’Halloran and John McGuinness were riding) and the underrated Kawasaki Bolliger Team Switzerland, who gave a good account of themselves at Suzuka.
While FCC TSR Honda had a handy buffer at the front, the competition for the minor places was intense late in the race. In the final half hour, David Checa on the Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube and Ozamu Deguchi on the Kawasaki Eva RT Trick Star were fighting out for the second spot on the podium. Following the EvaRT’s mechanical failure, Checa came through to put a YZF R1 on the podium behind the Honda CBR 1000RR’s. At the finish, both the second and third-placed teams had completed the same amount of laps, but a slightly better overall time gave the runner-up spot to TOHO Racing with Moriwaki.
Moto Map SUPPLY (Suzuki GSX-R1000) and Honda Suzuka Racing Team (Honda CBR 1000RR) completed the top five on 210 laps apiece. One lap behind and sixth overall was the Honda Dream RT Sakurai Honda squad, which made Wayne Maxwell and Jamie Stauffer the top-placed Aussies riders at this year’s 8 Hour ahead of Cudlin (ninth) and Donald (tenth).
Despite finishing 15th at Suzuka, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team holds a narrow 5-point lead over Honda TT Legends in the 2012 FIM Endurance World Championship after three of five rounds. The third-place result from Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin Yamalube has really improved that team’s chances, moving them ahead of the BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent and just 11 points behind SERT with two rounds still to go.
The next round of the FIM Endurance World Championship is the Oschersleben 8 Hours that takes place in Germany on Saturday August 11.
Images: FIM-Good Shoot/David Reygondeau