Jul 25, 2007
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30th 'Coca Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours' kicks off 29th July in Japan
The third leg of the QMMF Endurance FIM World Championship, the 'Coca Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours', will be fought out next Sunday on the famous Japanese circuit of Suzuka. The free tests will take place on the Thursday, with qualifying on the Friday. The race starts on Sunday 29th July at 11:30 local time, and will finish at 19:30.
85 teams have registered to take part. The 18 permanent World Championship teams will go head to head with a number of Japanese teams among whom are the well-known factory teams. There are several permanent teams who are well-placed to do well at this particular course.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team has the most experience of all the competitors at Suzuka with more than twenty appearances at the race. SERT won the Suzuka 8 Hours in 1983 and has finished on the podium many times. Partnering Vincent Phillipe and Matthieu Lagrive is Julien Da Costa who is making his first appearance at the Suzuka 8 Hours. The official French team Suzuki will be looking to put the performance of 2006 to the back of their minds when they had several falls and finished in 38th place.
Yamaha Austria Racing Team were the best placed permanent team in 2006. YART finished 10th overall and 1st in the Superbike category. Their objectives will be the same this year to finish in the top ten. In the absence of Sebastien Scarnasto who is resting his injuries from the start of the season, YART has turned to Australian rider Steve Martin to ride alongside Igor Jerman and Damian Cudlin.
Another team experimenting in Suzuka is Yamaha Phase One Endurance who have finished in the top 20 in the past three seasons. At Suzuka the German Stefan Nebel replaces Didier Van Keymeulen alongside Warwick Nowland and Glen Richards.
Many permanent teams have already tried their chance in the past at Suzuka - Bolliger Switzerland would probably rather forget its engine breakdown on the first lap of the course last year. While other teams are also hoping to improve on their performance in 2006, including Suzuki Sweden (23rd overall last year, third in the Superbike category), Diablo Bolliger 666 Kawasaki (31st in 2006, 11th in the Superbike category), Endurance Moto 45 (42nd, 1st in Superstock) and Zone Rouge (not classified last year).
Eurosport Benelux, who will take part at the Suzuka 8 Hours for the first time, have formed a partnership with another team FCC TSR winner of the 2006 Suzuka 8 Hours. On the seat of the Honda FCC TSR will be Heinz Platacis alongside two Japanese riders who are specialists in this event. Their objective is a top ten finish.
For many other teams this race is likely to be a baptism of fire. Endurance Moto 38 Yamaha, Raffin Motos Kawasaki, LTG 57, ABG Performance, RMT 21 Racing Honda, Amadeus X One and Maco Moto Racing will all be appearing for this first time at this Japanese race. The same goes for Qatar Endurance Racing Team. However QERT has recruited two Japanese riders to guide its Kawasaki and partner up with Mashel Al Naimi.
Absent from Suzuka is the No Limits team who have been replaced by RT Racing & Motovirus. Riding the Suzuki is Eric Monot, previously the rider for No Limits, and two Japanese riders.
The line-up for this Suzuka 8 Hours is almost exclusively Japanese, the only exception being the Ducati 999R La Belezza Speed registered by a Japanese team.