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Jul 23, 2014

Previews Of The 37th Suzuka 8 Hours FIM Endurance World Championship Race

Monster Energy Yamaha with YSP (7) will be racing on Bridgestone tires at the Suzuka 8 Hours. Photo courtesy of Bridgestone.

Bridgestone supports star cast in its bid to extend record streak at Suzuka 8 Hours

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Bridgestone will support some of the biggest names in motorcycle road racing as the world’s largest tyre manufacturer looks to extend its record winning streak at the Suzuka 8 Hours to nine consecutive victories.

This 37th edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours takes place this weekend at the fabled Suzuka Circuit in Japan and will mark round two of the 2014 FIM Endurance World Championship; one of the few remaining international race series where tyre manufacturers go head-to-head in competition. In 2013 Bridgestone continued its amazing run of success at the Suzuka 8 Hours by securing an eighth successive victory at an event where high humidity and ambient temperatures combine to create extremely challenging conditions for riders, motorcycles and tyres alike.

Last year, the Bridgestone-supported MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda team of Takumi Takahashi, Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark won the Suzuka 8 Hours in trying conditions, completing a total of 214 laps (1,245km), while the second-placed Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team of Takuya Tsuda, Nobu Aoki and Josh Brookes also shod with Bridgestone race tyres. Bridgestone was also the most represented tyre maker in the top-ten finishing teams, with four top-ten entries.

This year, Bridgestone will support a star-studded cast of riders who will battle for glory at the race that is known as the “8 Tai” to the scores of local Japanese fans that flock to the circuit each year. MotoGP™ rider Broc Parkes, Suzuki MotoGP test rider Randy de Puniet, MotoGP™ podium-getter Katsuyuki Nakasuga, former 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz, and a host of Superbike and Supersport riders from around the globe will be on Bridgestone tyres as they vie for glory at the fabled Suzuka circuit.

Bridgestone’s push for a ninth-straight Suzuka 8 Hours victory takes place at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture Japan, from 1130 local time (GMT +9) on Sunday, July 27th.

Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department

“The ‘8 tai’ is a remarkable race that features talented riders from across the globe on exquisite machinery battling it out at one of the most famous circuits in the world. It is an extremely trying event that demands the maximum from the rider, their bike and of course, the tyres. Bridgestone has a long and successful history at the 8 Hours and as the Endurance World Championship is one of the few top-level motorsport series where multiple tyre manufacturers go head-to-head in competition, this race holds special significance for us. Tyre performance is even more important this year, as the new FIM regulations for endurance racing means that each team can only use a maximum of seven tyres for qualifying and fifteen tyres for the race. This makes tyre strategy a critical part in achieving a good result. Bridgestone is famous for its exploits in MotoGP, but the Suzuka 8 Hours provides us with another great opportunity to show the world that our motorcycle tyres are unmatched in terms of performance, safety and durability.”

Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department

“Suzuka is a technical circuit with many different types of corners and a high average speed. These factors combined with the timing of the 8 Hours in the middle of summer when there are very high ambient and track temperatures means that developing tyres for this event is a major technical undertaking for Bridgestone. Our tyres need to provide strong, consistent performance, durability and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures and as one of the key times during the race is the rider’s out-lap after each stint, excellent warm-up performance is also very important for achieving a good result. Bridgestone’s record at the Suzuka 8 Hours is unmatched as our tyres have been on the winning bike for the last eight years and we are highly motivated to extend our record-breaking run of victories this year.”

Provisional list of Bridgestone-supported teams and riders at the 2014 Suzuka 8 Hours

No.Team NameMachineRider 1Rider 2Rider 3
5TEAM SUGAI RACING JAPANDucati 1199 Panigale RYoshiyuki SUGAITomohiro KAMATANI
11F.C.C. TSR HondaHonda CBR1000RRKosuke AKIYOSHIJonathan REALorenzo ZANETTI
12Legend of YOSHIMURA Shell ADVANCESuzuki GSX-R1000Kevin SCHWANTZSatoshi TSUJIMOTONobuatsu AOKI
22Honda Team AsiaHonda CBR1000RRMd Zamri BABADimas Ekky PRATAMAJosh HOOK
25Honda Suzuka Racing TeamHonda CBR1000RRTakashi YASUDADaijiro HIURATaketsuna MORII
39CONFIA Flex Motorrad39BMW S1000RRDaisaku SAKAIShinya TAKEISHITakatoshi ONISI
104TOHO Racing with



More, from a press release issued by Honda:

2014 FIM World Endurance Championship

Round 2, Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race, Japan

24-27 July 2014

Race Preview


The Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race is one of five on the World Endurance Championship calendar. But for Japanese fans and factories alike, it is quite simply the race of the year. The 37th running of this classic event is even more special than usual for Honda. With

22 teams carrying the Honda badge, the target of a fifth win in a row is firmly lined up in the sights.

The 8 Hours is uniquely gruelling and important – short enough to be more like a sprint compared with a 24-hour event; long enough to test rider and machine integrity to the ultimate, and with conditions combining strength-sapping heat and humidity with the ever-present chance of rain and a run into darkness. The classic Honda-made Suzuka circuit offers a technical challenge to match.

From the 8 Hours first running in 1978, the race has showcased the strength of the Japanese industry, with Honda taking the leading role.

Victory this year would not only be the fifth in succession. It would bring the historic win total to 27 … a success rate of almost 75 percent.

Honda does not field an official entry for the classic race, but puts years of production-racing success into specially prepared Honda CBR1000RR Fireblades for the top teams, while a number of independent teams both large and small provide backing in depth with similar machines.

Although it is an official Endurance World Championship round, only eight top World Endurance regulars are making the journey to Japan. The vast majority on the 71-team entry list are Japanese. The iconic race on the world-renowned figure-of-eight F1 grand prix circuit is a major annual event for manufacturers, engineers, riders, teams … and enormous crowds of fans.

In some cases domestic racing stars join forces with past and present international riders. The right combination of talent is the first step to success in an eight-hour ordeal, where speed, endurance, consistency, and an absence of bad luck are all vitally important.

From its foundation, the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance has been a show-piece battleground for the Big Four Japanese manufacturers. Rule changes over the years aligned the race with the Europe-based World Endurance Championship, and now rival European machines make the technical combat truly international. But the national prestige of Japan’s foremost is greater than ever.

There are many potential pitfalls in an event that is gruelling and exciting in equal measure.

It offers many chances and frequent surprises.

There are so many possible variables affecting the outcome.

Teamwork is crucial, with riders relying on fellow-riders, and precision spanner-work during tyre changes and refuelling stops. Unlike MotoGP and Superbike championships there is open tyre competition, with Bridgestone, Dunlop, Michelin and Pirelli all involved. Changing weather conditions mean tactics can come into play, but the relatively short race it is not far off a full-on sprint. Honda’s victory last year was by less than two minutes, with the second-placed team still on the same 214th lap.

Conditions make it exhausting for riders.

Sweltering summer temperatures as high as 40 degrees C and humidity of 70 percent or more take a heavy toll. If all goes smoothly, each rider will do a session of one hour before resting, rehydrating, and undergoing whatever physiotherapy may be required. The third rider generally takes a reserve role.

The trickiest and most atmospheric time is in the final hour, as darkness sets in and temperatures drop. The race starts at 11:30, and finishes at 7:30 pm.

The Suzuka circuit was founded by and belongs to Honda, and the 8 Hours Endurance almost does as well. In 35 races Honda has taken outright victory 25 times. The list of winners is a personal and mechanical who’s who, showcasing many of Honda’s greatest riders and machines.

MotoGP World champions Mick Doohan, Valentino Rossi and Wayne Gardner are all past winners, Gardner four times … a record equalled by former GP rider Shinichi Ito. World Superbike Champion Colin Edwards has won three times for Honda, including in 2002 paired with the late Daijiro Kato. The biggest Honda winner is Tohru Ukawa, with a tally of five.

Machine-wise, the list is a roster of successful supersports machines, from the in-line four CB900 in the late 1970s to the RS1000 and CB900F that won in 1982. Ridden by Shego Ijima and Shinji Hagiwara, this was the first Japanese team to win the home event. The next Honda win two years later saw Mike Baldwin and Superbike champion Fred Merkel prevail on the first of the next generation of V4 engines, the RS750R. The following RVF750 won five times before evolving into the legendary RC45, also winning five times between 1994 and 1999. For the next four years the V-twin VTR1000SPW took over Honda victory duties, replaced the next year by the CBR1000RR still used today – a return to in-line four-cylinder configuration.

Honda’s remarkable record includes 16 years of almost complete dominance in recent years. Since 1997, a Honda has won every year except two. Last year’s victory by Takumi Takahashi, Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark was the fourth in succession.

The same international rider line-up returns this year with the same MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO team, to spearhead the 22-strong Honda CBR1000RR line-up.

All-Japan star Takahashi has tasted 8 Hours victory twice already; World Superbike ace and former GP rider Haslam is from Britain, former World Supersport Champion van der Mark from the Netherlands. The trio is intent on repeating their 2013 success.

Fierce competition will come from the 2012 winning team, F.C.C. TSR Honda. World Superbike star Jonathan Rea was one of the riders that year, along with Japan’s Kosuke Akiyoshi. This year the pair will be joined by Italian international racer Lorenzo Zanetti. Last year the team crashed out of the lead after 58 laps; Akiyoshi missed the race through injury, but as Honda test-rider has played a major role in developing this year’s rendition of the Honda CBR1000RR.

Another high-profile Honda team with good prospects is the Japanese au&Teluru Kohara RT squad, with four-times 8 Hours winner and former GP star Shinichi Itoh (nicknamed Mr 8 Hours by the fans) joined by the experienced 8 Hours podium finisher Kazuma Watanabe and Tetta Nagashima;

They are not the only prospective winners. One of the leading World Endurance regulars combines a high level of rider talent with experience both of Endurance success and Suzuka in particular.

The HONDA ENDURANCE TEAM regular trio Julien da Costa, Sebastien Gimbert and Freddie Foray are all from France.

Strong Japanese teams include All JAPAN Honda DREAM CENTRAL BL RT, fielding Shingo Suzuki, Naomichi Nakai and Takaomi Takahashi, as well as the Honda Suzuka Racing Team, with Takahashi Yasuda, Daijiro Hiura and Taketsuna Morii.

Attention will be focused also on the Honda Technical College team, fielding Motoki Furusawa, Yuta Kodama, and Koji Kitaguchi; and the Honda Kumamoto Racing squad, with Mitsuhiro Yoshida, Kazuhiro Kojima and Kazuki Tokudome.

Honda Team Asia is back, again showing growing strength of Indonesia in motorcycling, with Indonesian rider Dimas Ekky Pratama backed by Pacific-rim colleagues Zamri Baba from Malaysia and Australian Josh Hook.

With 22 CBR1000RR machines dominating on numbers, other Honda riders are Masao Kuboyama, Takahiro Nakatsuhara (Honda ESCARGOT&PGR&H-TEC(E)); Takahashi Ishizuka, Atsushi Kawaguchi, Keita Endo (Honda SAYAMA Racing&Hammamatsu&H-TEC(E)); Akihiro Arita, Masao Suzuki (Racing Team TOTTORI); Kenichi Sakurai, Yutaka Nakamura, Toshiki Sawamura (B’WISE Racing Team); Minoru Ouchida, Tatsuya Yoshimichi, Kuniharu Watase (DOGFISH O-TEC Suzuka); Tsuna Nishinaka, Takaharu Kishida, Masahiro Shinjo (Honda DREAM RT WAKAYAMA); Jamie Stauffer, Troy Herfoss, Chojun Kameya (Honda DREAM RT SAKURAI HONDA); Hisao Kurayama, Takahashi Ebunima, Hiroshi Nakamura (Honda Kouyoukai DREAM Racing Team); Yasuhiro Ohashi, Kensuke Mori, Takuya Otsuka (Honda BlueHelmets MSC KUMAMOTO); Takeshi Kohara, Masayuki Yamanaka, Motoyuki Ando (Honda QCT MEIWA Racing); Takayuki Ooki, Yasuhiro Matsukawa, Akihiro Igarashi (MOTOBUM with ISHIGAKI ISLAND TUNA); Tatsuya Yamaguchi, Hiromichi Kunikawa, Ryuta Kobayashi (TOHO Racing with MORIWAKI); and Tsuyoshi Kurubayashi, Keiichi Honda (Honda EG Racing).

Rival Japanese manufacturers make up all but 11 of the 71-strong entry list – 15 Suzukis, 13 Kawasakis and ten Yamahas. Six BMWs, three Ducatis and two KTMs and European flavour to the Japanese battle.

There are a number of worthy rivals. Reigning World Champion team SERT fields Anthony Delhalle and Erwan Nigon, with Damian Cudlin taking the place of injured team regular Vincent Philippe.

Fellow regular championship squad Team R2CL see Gareth Jones, Gwen Giabbani and Mathieu Lagrive racing a similar Suzuki. Yoshimura Suzuki have a strong international line-up with Takuya Tsuda, Josh Waters and ex-MotoGP star Randy de Puniet; while Legend of Yoshimura Suzuki has the returning multi-GP winner and 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz, with ex-GP rider Nobuatsu Aoki and Satoshi Tsujimoto – a formidably experienced line-up.

Yamaha’s strongest challenge is expected from championship regulars David Checa, Kenny Foray and Mathieu Gines (Yamaha Racing GMT), as well as Wayne Maxwell, Rick Olson and Tommy Bridewell (PI Monster Energy Yamaha). Kawasaki has a lineup of international experience in Akira Yanagawa, Kazuki Watanabe and Katsuaki Fujiwara (Team Green).

Honda Rider Quotes:

MuSASHi RT HARC PRO Honda rider Takumi Takahashi says:

“We raced for the first time together last year, and Haslam’s injuries seemed serious. I think Michael was a bit uneasy too, as it was his first Suzuka 8 Hours race. This year, though, Haslam is back in shape, and Michael will undoubtedly race better. I think we’re one of the better-balanced teams, and we have a good chance of winning. Last year we won because we ran a positive race from the start. This year we’ll set a good pace in the early stages of the race, and show everyone how our riders have improved.”

MuSASHi RT HARC PRO Honda rider Leon Haslam says:

“I was proud to be picked again by a strong team aiming to win once more. The pressure will be on us, but that is a positive for me. I’ll try to be as fast and consistent as possible, and I know I have two strong team-mates who will do the same.

I’m really looking forward to riding this beautiful bike again.”

MuSASHi RT HARC PRO Honda rider Michael van der Mark says:

“Last year I had never ridden the CBR1000RR before, and never seen the circuit before. Thanks to my team-mates, I enjoyed victory at my first attempt … an indescribably feeling, at one of the most beautiful courses in the world and one of the most important races. This year I have more experience. I hope to have that feeling again.”

F.C.C. TSR Honda rider Kousuke Akiyoshi says:

“Rea could not join the tests this year because of a clash between his racing schedule and the Suzuka 8 Hours race test schedule. He left everything up to us, which was a lot of pressure, but at the same time a sign of his confidence in us. We’ve done everything we can, so we’re looking forward to his comments after he rides the machine during race week. We’ll fine-tune the machine, and race for the victory. Number 11 is Honda’s ace number. We promise we’ll live up to everyone’s expectations.”

F.C.C. TSR Honda rider Jonathan Rea says:

“It was tough to take last year when our bike crashed out of the lead in the third hour. I had strong hopes we’d be able to repeat our 2012 win, and they were shattered very suddenly. I missed the testing, and will have to readapt to Bridgestone tyres, which give the bike a very different character from the CBR1000RR I race in SBK, on Pirellis. This race is a big part of my year, and I have another year’s experience. The goal is to win again.”

F.C.C. TSR Honda rider Lorenzo Zanetti says:

“This is my first time at this great race, and I am feeling very privileged to be part of such a great team. I’ll do my best to justify their faith in me.”

Honda Team Asia team manager Makoto Tamada says:

“Josh Hook is experienced in the Suzuka 8 Hours, and is accustomed to Honda CBR1000RR, but as the other riders aren’t, we prepared by giving them as much time on the machines as possible. It was a short period, but their passion and enthusiasm has brought a lot of confidence to the team. The Suzuka 8 Hours race is not easy, but we’ll be aiming to finish in the top ten. It’s my first time as team manager, but it’s already very satisfying. We’ll take care of our riders’ feelings, and do our best.”

Honda Team Asia rider Zamri Baba says:

“I became more conscious of the Suzuka 8 Hours race after Azlan Shah raced to sixth with this team last year. I have a healthy rivalry with him, so I’ll be working hard. I’m happy to win the ARRC, and be given the opportunity to race this year. It’s a big challenge, and I’ll be doing my best.”

Honda Team Asia rider Dimas Pratama says:

“It’s really important that I won last year’s Suzuka 4 Hours race. At that time, I wanted to race in the 8 Hours, so having the opportunity so early is unbelievable! I’ll be racing with top riders, so there’s so much for me to learn. I’m really excited. I’ll be taking Tamada’s advice, and aim to put in a solid race.”

Honda Team Asia rider Josh Hock says:

“I’m glad to be invited by Honda Team Asia. The team is solid, the machine feels good, and the tests went well. I’m the only team rider with Suzuka 8 Hours race experience, so I’ll be doing everything I can to help.”


1 - 1979: Tony Hatton, AUS/Michael Cole, AUS - Honda CB900

2 - 1981: Mike Baldwin, USA/Dave Aldana USA - Honda RS1000

3 - 1982: Shigeo Iijima, J/Shinji Hagiwara, J - Honda CB900F

4 - 1984: Mike Baldwin, USA/Fred Merkel, USA - Honda RS750R

5 - 1985: Wayne Gardner, AUS/Masaki Tokano, J - Honda RVF750

6 - 1986: Wayne Gardner, AUS/Dominique Sarron F - Honda RVF750

7 - 1989: Dominique Sarron, F/Alex Vieira, Por - Honda RVF750

8 - 1991: Wayne Gardner, AUS/Mick Doohan, AUS - Honda RVF750

9 - 1992: Wayne Gardner, AUS/Daryl Beattie, AUS - Honda RVF750

10 -1994: Doug Polen, USA/Aaron Slight, NZ - Honda RVF/RC45

11 - 1995: Aaron Slight, NZ/Tadayuki Okada, J - Honda RVF/RC45

12 -1997: Shinichi Ito, J/Tohru Ukawa, J - Honda RVF/RC45

13 -1998: Shinichi Ito, J/Tohru Ukawa, J - Honda RVF/RC45

14 -1999: Tadayuki Okada, J/Alex Barros, Bra - Honda RVF/RC45

15 - 2000: Tohru Ukawa, J/Daijiro Kato, J - Honda VTR1000SPW

16 - 2001: Valentino Rossi, I/Colin Edwards, USA - Honda VTR1000SPW

17 - 2002: Daijiro Kato, J/Colin Edwards, USA - Honda VTR1000SPW

18 - 2003: Yukio Nukumi, J/Manubu Kamada, J - Honda VTR1000SPW

19 -2004: Tohru Ukawa, J/Hitoyasu Izutsu, J - Honda CBR1000RRW

20 - 2005: Ryuichi Kiyonari, J/Tohru Ukawa, J - Honda CBR1000RRW

21 - 2006: Shinichi Ito, J/Takeshi Tsujimura, J - Honda CBR1000RR

22 - 2008: Ryuichi Kiyonari, J/Carlos Checa, E - Honda CBR1000RR

23 - 2010: Ryuichi Kiyonari, J/Takumi Takahashi, J - Honda CBR1000RR

24 - 2011: Ryuichi Kiyonari, J/Kosuke Akiyoshi, J/Shinichi Itoh, J - Honda CBR1000RRW

25 - 2012: Jonathan Rea, GB/Kosuke Akiyoshi, J/Tady Okada, J - Honda CBR1000RR

26 – 2013: Takumi Takahashi, J/Leon Haslam, GB/Michael van der Mark, NL - Honda CBR1000RR

More, from from a press release issued by Yamaha Racing:

Yamaha Ready for Second Round of the FIM Endurance World Championship at Suzuka

The Yamaha France GMT94 Michelin Yamalube Team and Monster Energy Yamaha Austria Racing - YART prepare for the 37th “Coca-Cola Zero” Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race held from the 24th to the 27th of July.

The GMT94 Michelin team had a good start to the FIM Endurance World Championship. At the first round staged at Magny-Cours the team rode a strong race to grab second place, leaving them just five points behind the leader in the championship standings. Riders David Checa, Kenny Foray and Mathieu Gines are hopeful of keeping their momentum going at Suzuka, which has been a successful circuit for the team in the past. In 2012 GMT94 claimed third position and last year they finished in fifth place just two laps behind the race winner. Things are looking promising as the team had a successful pre-race test at the Japanese circuit on the 2-3 of July. They had to deal with some tricky weather conditions but GMT94 still managed to finish with a solid tenth place.

Monster Energy Yamaha - YART also raises expectations for the 2014 Suzuka 8-hours. Though they had an unlucky start of the season, they plan on making a strong comeback at the Japanese circuit with doubled forces. There will be not just one but two Yamaha’s sporting the YART colours in Suzuka. Monster Energy Yamaha YSP’s Broc Parkes, Josh Brookes and Japanese star Katsuyuki Nakasuga will be riding the #07 YZF-R1, while the YZF-R1 #7 will be in the capable hands of Yamaha Austria Racing Team’s Wayne Maxwell, Rick Olson and Tommy Bridewell.

The 2013 Suzuka-8 Hours race saw Monster Energy Yamaha leave from pole position and finish in eighth place. This year the Monster Energy Yamaha YSP team is one of the favourites to win. The team placed second fastest during the pre-race test and will go all out to conquer the top step of the podium.

The Suzuka 8-hour race is arguably one of the toughest endurance races in the world. Not only is the field completely packed with A-list competitors (there are 71 entries but only 70 places available), the circuit provides serious challenges too. Most of the corners are very fast and there are multiple heavy braking zones. Add to this Japan’s hot and humid conditions that make it hard for the riders to concentrate and preserve their energy and you understand that the Yamaha riders have their work cut out for them.

David Checa

GMT94 Michelin Yamalube Team

“We are in good position for the world championship and I feel very well, I did a lot of training before coming. We’ve had the chance to go at Suzuka for the official testing, but one day on the dry is not enough! For the race we have to remove some power because the atmospheric conditions are so different. We don't want to take any risks with the engine because we have to get points for the championship. I am really excited. I like hot temperatures and Suzuka circuit a lot! We got a podium finish in 2012 with Kenny Foray. He is strong and we can do something well together. Mathieu Gines is really fast but he doesn't know Suzuka, which is a very difficult circuit. But we ready to challenge.”

Katsuyuki Nakasuga

Monster Energy Yamaha YSP

“For the pre-race tests, I focused not on setting a fast time but working on finding a machine set-up that all three of us riders could do well with. Also, finding a good balance of fuel efficiency and power for the machine is important in the Suzuka 8 Hours, so I wanted to get good data for this as well as formulate a solid strategy for the race. Personally, I’m aiming for a third consecutive pole position, but last year we were running in 4th place when we had machine trouble and fell back through the pack, so this year the goal is to end the race with a top position. Broc Parkes and Josh Brookes are both very fast riders, so if we just go out and do what we each need to do, I’m sure we can aim for the podium.”

Broc Parkes

Monster Energy Yamaha YSP

“I'm really excited for Suzuka and would really like to thank Yamaha for giving me this opportunity again. I think this year we have a very strong team and have shown in testing already that we have a chance to fight at the front. For me Suzuka is the hardest physical race on my calendar this year.”

Josh Brookes

Monster Energy Yamaha YSP

“I’m really looking forward to it. I have been able to up my training regime in recent months so I am hoping I should be able to cope with the heat, and spending long stints on the bike, well enough. It will be a learning year for me so I am not expecting there to be a lot of pressure on me. I just want to go out there and enjoy the experience. There will be different tyres to learn but I have already been doing my homework on the track. It should be good fun.” 

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Press Office:

A star-studded line-up of Suzuki teams is ready for Japan’s most prestigious motorcycle race, the Suzuka 8-Hour World Endurance Championship second round that gets underway tomorrow.

The Coca-Cola Zero 37th 8-Hour has attracted a record-breaking entry of 71 teams, vying for 70 places on the grid; which includes 13-time World Endurance Champions Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, two teams from Yoshimura Suzuki, Team Kagayama, Team Motors Events April Moto and Team R2CL; all aboard GSX-R1000s.

Reigning World Champions SERT will start the race without long-standing rider Vincent Philippe - who is still recovering from injuries sustained in the opening round at the Bol d’Or in France – and will field Australian Damian Cudlin in his place alongside team regulars Anthony Delhalle and Erwan Nigon.

Yoshimura Suzuki has entered two teams to celebrate the company’s 60th Anniversary: ‘Legend of Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance’ and ‘Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance.’ The #12 Legend team comprises former World 500cc Champion Kevin Schwantz, former Japanese Champion Satoshi Tsujimoto and Suzuki MotoGP Test rider Nobuatsu Aoki. Yoshimura’s #34 Shell Advance team is made-up of two more Suzuki MotoGP Test riders - Randy De Puniet and Takuya Tsuda - along with Tyco Suzuki’s British Superbike rider Josh Waters; fresh from his maiden victory at last weekend’s Brands Hatch BSB round.

Team Kagayama’s three-man entry is headed by Yukio Kagayama along with his 2013 Suzuka partner Noriyuki Haga and new young Swiss Dominique Aegerter joining them for the event. Team Motors Events, currently fourth in the points standings, fields Gregory Fastre, Michael Savary and Jimmy Storrar, while R2CL comprises Gareth Jones, Gwen Giabbani and Matthieu Lagrive.

The opening free practice sessions start tomorrow at 13.00hrs local time (GMT+9hrs) with further practice and night practice from 09.00hrs local time on Friday. Saturday’s Top-10 Trial – to determine the starting grid – takes place from 15.30hrs. Warm-up on Sunday is at 08.30hrs with the start of the 37th Suzuka 8-Hour scheduled for 11.30hrs. 

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