World Endurance: Race Results From The Suzuka 8-Hours (Updated Again)

World Endurance: Race Results From The Suzuka 8-Hours (Updated Again)

© 2019, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

42nd Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hours Endurance Race

FIM Endurance World Championship

Suzuka Circuit, Japan

July 28, 2019

Race Results:

1. Kawasaki Team Green (Leon Haslam/Toprak Razgatlioglu/Jonathan Rea), Kaw ZX-10RR, SBK, 216 laps

2. Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Katsuyuki Nakasuga/Alex Lowes/Michael van der Mark), Yam YZF-R1, SBK, -18.720 seconds

3. Red Bull Honda (Takumi Takahashi/Ryuichi Koyinari/Stefan Bradl), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, -66.727 seconds

4. F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Josh Hook/Freddy Foray/Mike Di Meglio), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, -1 lap

5. Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing (Sylvain Guintoli/Yukio Kagayama/Kazuki Watanabe), Suz GSX-R1000, SBK, -1 lap, 20.707 seconds

6. YART – Yamaha (Broc Parkes/Marvin Fritz/Niccolo Canepa), Yam YZF-R1, SBK, -2 laps

7. MuSashi RT Harc-Pro Honda (Xavi Fores/Dominique Aegerter/Ryo Mizuno), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, -3 laps

8. S-Pulse Dream Racing – IAI (Tommy Bridewell/Bradley Ray), Suz GSX-R1000, SBK, -5 laps

9. KYB Moriwaki Racing (Yuki Takahashi/Tomoyoshi Koyama/Troy Herfoss), Hon CBR1000RR, SBK, -5 laps, 57.309 seconds

10. Honda Dream RT Sakurai Honda (Sodo Hamahara/Shinichi Ito/Kosuke Sakumoto), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, -5 laps, 105.262 seconds

11. Honda Asia Dream Racing with SHOWA (Muhammad Zaqhwan/Andi Farid Izdihar/Teppei Nagoe), HoCBR1000RR SP2, SBK, -6 laps

12. Team SRC Kawasaki France (Jeremy Guarnoni/Erwan Nigon/David Checa), Kaw ZX-10RR, SBK, -7 laps

13. Honda Endurance Racing Team (Randy De Puniet/Yonny Hernandez/Sebastien Gimbert), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, -7 laps, 105.639 seconds

14. TONE RT SYNCEDGE 4413 (Tomoya Hoshino/Kokoro Atsumi/Takeshi Ishizuka), BMW S1000RR, STK, -9 laps

15. Bolliger Team Switzerland (Nigel Walraven/Danny Buchan/Osamu Deguichi), Kaw ZX-10RR, SBK, -9 laps, 3.045 seconds

16. Team ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance (Kenny Foray/Julien Da Costa/Mathieu Gines), BMW S1000RR, SBK, -9 laps, 26.843 seconds

17. Team Frontier (Alan Techer/Nicolas Terol/Danny Webb), Hon CBR1000RR SP, SBK, -9 laps, 53.532 seconds

18. Zaif NCXX Racing & Zenkoukai (Kengo Nagao/Stefan Hill), Yam YZF-R1, STK, -9 laps, 54.792 seconds

19. Honda Suzuka Racing Team (Yudai Kamei/Daijiro Hiura/Jun Tadokoro), Hon CBR1000RR SP2, SBK, -10 laps

20. Omega Maco Racing (Pawel Szkopek/TBA/TBA), Yam YZF-R1, SBK, -10 laps, 70.565 seconds

Final World Championship Point Standings (after 5 of 5 events):

1. Team SRC Kawasaki France, 132 points

2. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, 127

3. F.C.C. TSR Honda France, 109

4. WEPOL Racing, 101

5. YART – Yamaha, 88

6. Honda Endurance Racing, 79

7. Bolliger Team Switzerland, 73

8. VRD IGOL PIERRET EXPERIENCES, 53

9. TIE, MOTO AIN/GERT56 by GS YUASA, 45

More, from a press release issued by EuroSport Events/FIM:

KAWASAKI RACING TEAM WIN AT SUZUKA

1ST WORLD TITLE FOR TEAM SRC KAWASAKI FRANCE

Kawasaki Racing Team emerged victors at the Suzuka 8 Hours after a disrupted race finish. Yamaha Factory Racing Team and Red Bull Honda rounded off the podium after an incredible finish at this year’s race, which handed Team SRC Kawasaki France their first world title.

After a 5-hour battle in the lead between the 3 factory teams, who were just 6 seconds from each other at the 6-hour mark, a blown engine and a crash totally shook up the last 5 minutes of the race. The race leaders Kawasaki Racing Team crashed with the red flag out 3 minutes from the finish. Despite the crash, and although Jonathan Rea did not reach the finish line, Kawasaki Racing Team were declared the winners in accordance with the rule stating that in case the race is stopped when the red flag is waved, the standings reflect positions on the previous lap.

Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu have offered Kawasaki its first victory at Suzuka since 1993. After four back-to-back wins, Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, the winners of the last two editions) finished second ahead of Red Bull Honda (Takumi Takahashi, Stefan Bradl and Ryuichi Kiyonari).

F.C.C. TSR Honda France stoutly defended their 4th place against Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing for the entire duration of the race. Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike Di Meglio went all out to achieve their objective but did not succeed in taking a second world championship crown for F.C.C. TSR Honda France.

The first European team past the finish line, YART Yamaha, were 6th, ahead of Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda who did a superb climb back up after starting the race with a 1 mn-30s penalty.

Four Japanese teams who were in the leading pack right from the start of the race, S-Pulse Dream Racing (Suzuki), KYB Moriwaki Racing (Honda), Honda Dream RT Sakurai and Honda Asia Dream Racing with Showa, rounded off the Top 10.

Title goes to Team SRC Kawasaki France

Just before Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) crashed, there was another spectacular upset at the end of the race. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team were lapping in 9th place and looking certain to win their 16th world title when engine failure put paid to nearly 8 hours of hard slog by Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black. Team SRC Kawasaki France’s 11th-place finish with riders Jérémy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa enabled the French team to conquer their first-ever FIM Endurance World Championship title.

Four Europeans teams finished in the Top 20. Honda Endurance Racing were 13th and Bolliger Team Switzerland 15th (following a start from 31st), ahead of Team ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance. Omega Maco Racing were 20th.

The 42nd edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours drew 109,000 spectators including 65,500 on Sunday (+8%) despite a typhoon warning on Saturday.

More, from a press release issued by Honda Endurance Racing:

Hard fought 13th in blistering Suzuka 8 Hours heat for Honda Endurance Racing

Suzuka 8 Hours

Suzuka Circuit, Japan

The Honda Endurance Racing team has finished the 42ndEdition of the Suzuka 8 Hours in a hard fought 13th. Honda’s endurance specialists Sébastien Gimbert, Randy de Puniet and Yonny Hernandez overcame all arising challenges to bring the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade home safe and sound.

Starting from 21st position, start rider Yonny Hernandez already had made his way up close to the Top-Ten on the first laps, when a unfortunate small crash in the last chicane prior the main straight stopped his assault for some 30 seconds. Hernandez was able to continue without having to put in an extra stop as the Fireblade needed no repair at all.

Around half way through of the Suzuka 8 Hours the Honda Endurance Racing team had to solve a minor issue on the bike, when Sébastien Gimbert entered into the garage directly after his stint. The bike was sent back out again fairly quick after it had repaired and the dashboard got changed.

Together with Randy de Puniet, Hernandez and Gimbert lapped a solid race pace, surprising themselves with slightly better times than expected. The team had tried some set up changes during today’s warm up session and that proved to be a step in the right direction.

There is some confusion going on about the result of the race with the leading team not making it back to parc fermé being excluded – but later brought back in again due to a special paragraph in the Endurance regulations.

For all the latest news and updates on the team follow @HondaRacingCBR on Twitter.

Sébastien Gimbert

It was not easy; this week was very complicated. We had a strange situation and were fighting the chattering all the time. May lap times have been too slow because I compare that to SERT or F.C.C.. I am not happy because this result is not my objective but it is okay because we finished the race which is the first thing you have to do in Endurance racing and especially at the end it wasn’t easy to do that today. It is strange to finish this season as we did, but now I am focusing on the Bol d’Or because this will be the last race for me and I want to win to finish my career on a high note. I am happy I have such a strong team behind me and my team mates are really, really strong so I am looking to the Bol d’Or with confidence.

Randy de Puniet

It was a really hard week because we had some difficulties during all the sessions, but today we made some big changes and it was a little bit better – the pace today was much better. Without Yonny’s crash and the small technical issue it would have been possible to enter the Top-10. We finished 13th – which is not bad. Yonny crashed but this is not a problem, it is a race and he wanted to stay in a good rhythm – and I crashed in the past as well, so there is nothing to moan about in this point as it always can happen and it was not a stupid crash. I think our team, the riders and the crew, did a really good job. Sometimes it was hard to accept the situation but in the end we improved the setting for the race and it was better than in the rest of the week. We understood many things and can build on that in the future. It was difficult but we all stayed strong together all the time and so did a good job.

Yonny Hernandez

At the end I am not so happy because we know we have the potential to fight further up on the front. But here it was a difficult week during the practices and the race. The race itself was really hard, especially to keep a fast rhythm. I tried to do my best and to understand the bike. I wanted to push on lap times, more was not possible today. Positive is the word for the work we have done with the team during the week to get the setup better though. I have to say a big thanks to the team and we finished the 8 hours which is something always to be proud of. At the end it was not so bad because we were in P12 but for sure we need to find a solution for the Bol d’Or because we know we can do better.

Jonny Twelvetrees

Team Manager

It has been a really, really tough week. It has not really got going for us and every time it did – whether that was practice or qualifying – and we thought we started to get some momentum, there would be a little crash or we hit a ceiling on the lap time. And that happened in the race today: We started to get some momentum and made our way through the field and then it was a crash or we had a bit more fuel consumption than we had planned or a small technical issue. We never really got going, which is a bit disappointing, because I think we could have been a challenger in the Top-10 but it wasn’t to be. The end of the race – well, with the result of some other teams in the last minutes – this shows how unlucky you can be in this sport and how punishing it is, so this puts it all in perspective. We learnt something, got some home work to do before we go to the Bol-test.

More, from a press release issued by Honda Pro Racing:

Drama-filled Suzuka 8 Hours brings double podium joy for Honda

Suzuka 8 Hours

Suzuka Circuit, Japan

In Japan, the 42nd running of the Suzuka 8 Hours produced one of the most dramatic and intense battles ever which went right down to the wire. Nearly one third of the grid were campaigning the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, but all eyes were on the officially-supported teams of, amongst others, Red Bull Honda, reigning World Champions F.C.C. TSR Honda France, MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO and KYB Moriwaki Racing and Honda Endurance Racing.

There was forecast to be showers today, after yesterday’s typhoon cancelled the Top 10 qualifying shootout, but the race got underway in typically hot and humid Suzuka weather – 30 degrees Celsius and 90% humidity.

With a blistering opening lap, F.C.C. TSR Honda France took the lead for the first time across the line from 6th on the grid, with Red Bull Honda close behind. And so an incredible battle raged between the top five, who were split by less than a second after the first hour of racing.

As the race unfolded, and F.C.C. TSR Honda France held fourth, the top three battle intensified as. After five hours, 140 laps and nearly 1000km of racing, the top trio were split by just 1.5seconds as the pace was unrelenting.

At the seven hour mark, Red Bull Honda’s Takumi Takahashi rode brilliantly to overhauling a near-10sec deficit and take the lead of the famous race.

This duel continued through the last round of pitstops, and just in case there wasn’t sufficient drama the rain that had been forecast finally arrived in the final 30minutes and the teams waited nervously to see whether a final stop for wet tyres was required. Takahashi, who was at the end of a gruelling double-stint, dug deep in a remarkable display of grit and determination to finish third.

But the double-twist was still to come, as the leading #10 machine crashed on the final lap on a patch of oil, just as the rain worsened, causing a red flag. After an initial provisional result put Red Bull Honda second and F.C.C. TSR Honda France third, an investigation into the incident resulted in a reinstatement by the FIM of #10, leaving Red Bull Honda in their on-track position of third.

Fourth overall for F.C.C. TSR Honda France secures them second in the FIM Endurance World Championship, and the middle step of the Championship podium at this season finale event.

More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Victorious Suzuka 8 Hours For KRT As SRC Kawasaki France Wins The Championship!

After a truly epic and finally dramatic contest the Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8 Hours squad took the race victory on their Ninja ZX-10RR, securing Kawasaki’s first win at this highly prestigious event since 1993. There was double joy for Kawasaki as the FIM World Endurance Championship title went to the Team SRC Kawasaki France squad, after they posted a 12th place finish in the final race of the season.

Forming a two-rider team in the race the experienced Suzuka 8 Hours duo of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam took turns to take on the serious competition that had been evident from the very first laps, as the first-time 8 Hours rider Toprak Razgatlioglu played his role as reserve rider.

Having made their Le Mans-style start from second place on the grid the early action in the race was incredibly tight for Jonathan and Leon, with KRT third after the first hour – at which point five different teams were covered by just 0.795 seconds.

The KRT riders led after four hours, after five, then six, and then again at the seven hour point.

With Haslam struggling with recent injuries in the final laps of his riding stints Rea, the four-time WorldSBK champion for Kawasaki, re-took the lead in the very last session and looked destined to secure the win for KRT.

In an unbelievable turn of bad luck Rea arrived on another machine’s oil spill in the gloomy and damp conditions that arrived just as the daylight was exhausted. He fell, blamelessly, but was unable to restart.

At that stage the dream of a famous race victory seemed gone and the official Yamaha team were initially declared winners after a red flag was thrown because of the oil.

Despite missing out on the initial podium ceremony, and after a long period of time, the results were amended by the race organisers to put the number 10 Kawasaki back on top. In the final reckoning KRT won the race by 18.720 seconds from Yamaha, with three teams in all on the same lap total of 216.

Even before the final race classification was determined the Number 11 Team SRC Kawasaki France entry of Jeremy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa had already won the FIM Endurance World Championship title outright for the Team SRC Kawasaki France outfit.

Although they lost one place from their immediate Suzuka classification of 11th, to finish an official 12th in the race, their closest rivals Suzuki Endurance Racing Team suffered a technical retirement.

The next-closest team to SRC entering the final round, F.C.C TSR Honda France, could not make up enough points today to deprive the French based Ninja ZX-10RR squad of a famous World Championship success.

After leading but then finishing a disappointed seventh at the Bol d’Or championship opener, the SRC 2018/2019 championship winning season included a race win at the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours race in April.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I cannot believe what is happening really. From being dejected and feeling that everything was out of our hands, I had already gone back to the hotel, said goodbye to all the guys, with lots of tears. I was in the restaurant already, ordering dinner, when my mechanic Uri called me and said, ‘Hey, are you sitting down?’ I thought he was going to ask me to go to another restaurant – but he then told me we had won the 8 Hours. I think common sense prevailed in that one. I have no words because I am really emotional and happy. The strategy was to work on fuel consumption and race consistency and make no mistakes. I feel we executed that quite well although I got quite tired and cramped at the end. But we prepared the best way possible with the limited time we had. I am so proud to be part of the project and what an effort from KRT, KHI, KMJ who prepared for this race in two tests. During the race it is like hell, the hardest race you can ever imagine, but getting a result like this almost makes me want to come back for more. The emotional roller coaster is unreal.”

Leon Haslam, stated: “From everyone being in tears to getting the news sitting in a restaurant that we actually did win it, I have no words to describe how I feel. The Suzuka 8 Hours is always one of the hardest races of the year. The effort we put in to win, from us, the team and Kawasaki means it has been a big roller coaster of emotion. When the oil went down and the situation happened at the end; words cannot describe the lows we had. But when the good news came through, the highs were just as high. In the second half of each stint I really struggled physically but the bike was working well. I am so happy and I want to thank Kawasaki for this opportunity; also the whole team, Toprak and Johnny, and we pushed as hard as we could. It is a shame that we did not get to stand on the top of the podium but the result is in and we have won the Suzuka 8 Hours.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu, stated; “Today I am very tired after watching the race for eight hours! But I am very happy for Johnny and Leon because that was an incredible job today. We are all happy and thank you to everyone. For me this was my first time here – and our team won.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team manager, stated: “This race has been outstanding and I think for the public, the fans and everyone it has been the most incredible Suzuka 8 Hours. Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki – the riders and the factories – have been amazing everybody and they all saw a great race. The best point is that we finally got the victory after Johnny made an incredible last riding stint. The strategy we planned was very good so at the end we got the victory.”

TEAM SRC KAWASAKI FRANCE QUOTES

Jeremy Guarnoni, stated: “It is unbelievable to win the championship and for me it has been the first time that I have done the full season – and we won it. We deserve it because after the Bol d’Or it was a really difficult moment for the team and me – for my head. Of course we are a bit lucky at the end but we deserve it because we made the job in Le Mans and I have two unbelievable team-mates. The team itself and the bike were – all season – really good. This weekend was a bit more difficult but Suzuka is always a strange race. We are really happy.”

Erwan Nigon, stated: “What a race and what a championship also. We had all weather conditions, 24-hour races are hard and early in the 2018/2019 season we had a victory at Le Mans which is always a good sign for the rest of the championship. We pushed a lot all through this year and in the end we won the championship. First time for me and I want to say thanks to the team because they worked a lot all winter to adjust the bike to make good race settings. Many thanks to my partners, my family and my incredible team-mates. We are friends also so it is a really good feeling to win it with them.”

David Checa, stated: “I do not know what to say. In my first year with Kawasaki and Gilles’s team I am world champion again. It is like a dream. When you change a team it is not easy, when you change a brand it is not easy, but my team and my team-mates did a really good job. The atmosphere in the team is incredible. We are friends and for me this is the main point. When we talk and share everything for sure you push more. I believed that we could win the championship all year. The Bol d’Or was frustrating because we had a problem two hours from the end but we continued to believe. When you dream, and believe, the dream can come true – and we are world champions. Now I want to win the next Bol d’Or for Kawasaki, my team-mates and my team. We are world champions today but we have to think of the future and that future now is the Bol D’Or.”

Gilles Staffler, SRC Team Manager, stated: “We are very happy, the riders made a really good job, my team too, and it is fantastic. To win the title was a dream for us and Kawasaki and all the sponsors. It is a great day.”

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha:

Yamaha Factory Racing Team Finish 2nd in Thrilling 2019 Suzuka 8 Hours

At the 42nd “Coca-Cola” Suzuka 8 Hours, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team took the #21 YZF-R1 to 2nd place, securing the fifth consecutive podium finish at Suzuka for Yamaha since the return of the factory team in 2015.

With 2019 marking the 21st year since the YZF-R1 was launched, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team entered the Endurance World Championship (EWC) finale on an R1 sporting a revival of the original Yamaha TECH21 Team livery from 1985. The eight-hour race saw the team engage their rivals in a fierce chase for the win from start to finish, with Nakasuga, Lowes and van der Mark faithfully carrying out their respective stints as planned. As the race approached its final stages and the team running in 3rd, Lowes was handed the TECH21 R1 for the last stint of the day.

The Briton made a pass to take 2nd on the 211th lap, but not long after, the leading bike crashed with just minutes left to the chequered flag. The race was subsequently red-flagged and ended, with the Yamaha Factory Racing Team initially taking the victory on the provisional race results. However, following scrutiny and discussion of the on-track events by officials, the provisional results were later amended with Yamaha taking 2nd place instead. Yamaha Motor requested an explanation of this amendment from FIM Race Direction, and upon hearing the background and reasoning for the judgement made by the FIM, Yamaha Motor accepted the decision.

The YART Yamaha OEWC Team on the #7 YZF-R1 ran a superb race, setting consistent laps among the leading teams for the full eight hours. They finished in the top-five until the amendment to the provisional results put them in 6th. Despite two DNFs among the five rounds of the EWC, their 2nd place finish at the 24 Hour Bol d’Or, a second straight win at the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring, and this strong performance at Suzuka puts the Austria-based team 4th in the overall standings for the 2018-2019 season.

Yamaha would like to express our deepest thanks to all of our sponsors and suppliers for their incredible support and to all of the fans that braved the summer heat to come to the circuit and cheer for the Yamaha teams competing in this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours.


Yamaha Factory Racing Team

Race result: 2nd (7:55’55.333, 216 laps)

Katsuyuki Nakasuga

Yamaha Factory Racing Team

“I was so happy to be able to ride with these guys again at Suzuka, and I think we had a really enjoyable and fulfilling race week overall. We all gave a 100% effort, and we were able to work together really well in sharing the R1 for our stints. The entire team and staff, not just us riders, showed how strong we are in the race today.”

Alex Lowes

Yamaha Factory Racing Team

“I love the Suzuka 8 Hours and to get the opportunity to ride with Michael rather than against him is nice, as he’s a tough opponent to beat normally. I always enjoy riding with Nakasuga-san too, as we are friends as well as teammates. So this is always a special race for me and today we all did our best. We pushed right up until the end, we never gave up chasing and it was a lot of fun. Thanks to my teammates, and to everyone in the team, for all the hard work they put in to chasing success here in Suzuka.”


Michael van der Mark

Yamaha Factory Racing Team

“It’s a bit of a strange end to what was an incredible race today. I think all three of us did the best we could today. We had quite similar pace but, of course, there are also areas in which we can look to improve, which is what we’ll do before returning next year when, hopefully, we can fight for the win once again.”


Wataru Yoshikawa

Team Manager – Yamaha Factory Racing Team

“Our rivals came back with stronger potential this year, so I knew it was going to be a tough fight from the beginning, and today it really was. With our machine, the riders helped us out so much in getting it set up just right for the race, so I want to be in a position to return the favour to them next year. I’m so thankful to the fans and to our sponsors for lending us their cheers and support for this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours.”


YART Yamaha Official EWC Team

Race result: 6th (7:56:53.579, 214 laps) EWC ranking: 4th

Broc Parkes

YART Yamaha EWC Team

“For me it’s not been so easy this week, but then in the race my lap times during my stints were really good and I could keep the pace. From a team perspective, we did everything we possibly could to beat home one of the factory bikes and to be in the top six, which was great, even if our target was top five ahead of the race. I have amazing teammates and an amazing team, and I’m confident we’ll be even stronger next season.”


Marvin Fritz

YART Yamaha EWC Team

“We’ve been really strong all weekend and I think nobody really expected us to be running so close to the factory teams. Niccolò on our bike was as fast as Alex on the factory bike in qualifying, which is an incredible achievement when you consider the differences in the bikes. We made an amazing job and a fantastic race; I think I was one second quicker on every lap compared to last year. I’m really happy and thanks to the team and my teammates for their support, they all did a fantastic job.”


Niccolò Canepa

YART Yamaha EWC Team

“I am really happy about our performance, both the riders and the team, because it was such a perfect race; not one mistake, the pace was incredible and all week we were fighting with the factory teams, which is quite an accomplishment. In recent years, with this pace, we’d have been on the podium, but the speed has increased this year and, in a race where few of the leaders had any issues, it made it tough for us to progress. I’m really, really happy with sixth place, even if we did miss out on our pre-race target of top five by one place.”


Mandy Kainz

Team Manager – YART Yamaha EWC Team

“It was quite an unexpected race today. In warm up this morning we badly damaged the race bike in a crash, which meant we had to start the race on the spare bike, which the riders don’t have such a good feeling with compared to the number one machine. Even so, we had a perfect race and, normally, our pace would have been good enough to put us on the podium, but today nobody had any problems, which was surprising. It’s quite incredible that a performance like we put in today was good for only sixth, but that’s endurance racing for you. The riders did a perfect job, the team did a perfect job and I think this race will go in the books as one of the most exciting in years.”

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

SUZUKI SUZUKA CELEBRATIONS

* Suzuki lead from start

* Yoshimura Suzuki finish 4th

* SERT close to championship victory

Sunday morning at Suzuka was cloudy but dry, unlike the previous day where a typhoon forced the top-10 trial to be cancelled. A 45minute warm-up session took place from 8:30 and the teams made their final adjustments for the race.

Before the start, a retirement ceremony was held for Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Manager Dominique Méliand, who has led the team for over 40 years. Former SERT riders such as Keiichi Kitagawa and Yukio Kagayama were among the many guests celebrating Dominique’s successful career. FIM president Jorge Viegas made a speech praising his achievements and Suzuki president Toshihiro Suzuki presented him with flowers. Dominique thanked everyone for the years he has spent competing in the EWC and said he would do his very best in this, his last race as team manager.

The race started on time at 11:30 with a Le Mans start under dry conditions with an ambient temperature of 30 degrees and track temperature of 47 degrees.

An unexpected holeshot from #95 S-PULSE DREAM RACING IAI (S-PULSE) Bradley Ray brought excitement to the Suzuki fans, but at the end of a confusing opening lap, #12 YOSHIMURA SUZUKI MOTUL RACING Sylvain Guintoli was in second, S-PULSE in third and SERT in ninth. #9 MotoMap S.W.A.T (MotoMap) Josh Waters was leading the SST class in an overall 13th position, but #71 TK SUZUKI BLUE MAX Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman couldn’t get off to a good start and fell back.

On the third lap Yoshimura overtook #1 F.C.C. TSR HONDA FRANCE and became the race leader, slowly widening the gap to 2 seconds. MotoMap, who were comfortably leading the SST class, crashed on the 6th lap, and returned to the pits to repair the machine.

Safety cars were needed on lap 12 due to a crash at the 200R section of the track, and this put the race leaders together again. When the safety cars left the track on lap 17, Yoshimura continued to lead the factory teams for another 10 laps.

After the first pit-in, Yoshimura were back to 5th place but riding at a good pace. S-PULSE and SERT continued around 10th place, and the race proceeded without much change until the last hours.

Rain started to fall at around 19:00 and, with only 30minutes to go, SERT was in a position where, if they could maintain position they would take the world title yet again by a margin of one point. Riding carefully in the dark and increasingly wet conditions, and with only 5 minutes to go, the title looked promising, but the GSX-R suffered a rare technical issue and SERT was out of the race, and unable to deliver a final world title to Dominique.

Race leader #10 Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea raced into the final lap but crashed on the left-hander after the S-corner and the Red Flag brought the race to a premature end.

Following an FIM meeting the final positions were taken from the previous lap and the final results showed Yoshimura in 5th, S-PULSE 8th and TK SUZUKI 21st. MotoMap fought back from their early crash to 27th overall and 4th in the SST class.


#12 YOSHIMURA SUZUKI MOTUL RACING:

Sylvain Guintoli: “The start was good; I was able to push hard and stay in the lead for some time. We couldn’t reach the podium but were able to show our strong performance. The team worked extremely hard and the potential of the bike was even higher than last year. I’m glad we were able to finish safely in front of the cheering fans.”

Yukio Kagayama: “I felt I could have done better on the first stint so that’s a bit of a regret. I tried hard to overtake the TSR machine ahead, but we had minor troubles and it wasn’t possible. I’m not totally happy with the result, but we made it to the goal, so I think I’ll just have to be proud about that.”

Kazuki Watanabe: “To be honest, I’m frustrated with the result. We made a mistake with the tyre choice on the first stint and I couldn’t ride as fast I would have liked. However, we were able to gather a lot of data and it was a great experience for me to team-up with experienced riders such as Kagayama and Sylvain. I hope this experience will boost my performance in the following rounds of the Japanese Superbikes series.”

Yohei Kato – Team Manager: “We have had trouble for the past two years so I must say I’m glad we made it to the end safely. However, the factory teams definitely showed us their strength, making us realise there is an obvious gap that needs to be assessed. This is frustrating, but we’ll move on and try harder next time. Thank you all for your support.”


#95 S-PULSE DREAM RACING·IAI:

Tommy Bridewell: “It was yet again a wonderful race for me. Only two riders was a hard task, but the crew worked hard, and we were able to ride the bike in a very comfortable situation. The crew are like a family in Japan and I feel very proud of them.”

Bradley Ray: “I couldn’t believe the holeshot! It was a superb feeling. We worked hard as a team and I think we can be proud about the final result in 8th as a private team. It was a great experience and I thank all the staff.”

Shiro Yoshida. Team Manager: “The holeshot by Bradley really boosted our spirits. We found our pace and finished in 8th, so I’m happy about the race and the result. I thank all the sponsors and fans for the support and promise to keep on trying hard.”

#71 TK SUZUKI BLUE MAX:

Gregory LeBlanc: “I’d say the result was so-so. We were aiming for the top 10 but I don’t think we had enough time to properly prepare for that. I’m glad we have finished safely.”

Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman: “We had some trouble with the bike and had to nurse it along for some time, but I’m relieved we’ve made it to the goal without any spills. I thank Kagayama-san for this opportunity and will be happy to do it again.”

Takuya Tsuda: “Multiple unexpected problems occurred during the week and it was difficult to concentrate. I injured my wrist this morning trying not to crash, and the injury made it difficult to control the bike in the race. I hope to find an answer to these difficulties and fight hard in the latter half of the Japanese Superbikes.”


#9 MotoMap S.W.A.T:

Josh Waters: “Obviously I am very disappointed. I had a crash from the start, but the team did an amazing job all weekend and it showed in qualifying and how fast we were able to go on a stock bike. Our pace throughout the race was the fastest of all the stock bikes. Big thanks to Nobu, to everyone in the team, they have done a fantastic job. So next year, we will win. Third year lucky!”

Dan Linfoot: “I’m happy This is the first time for me to take part in the race. So just being in the team was amazing and having to finish in the night was amazing. We had great pace – I mean everyone, Nobu and Josh and myself, we all had a good pace. Obviously, Josh had a small crash and we lost about nine laps I believe, but we have made the best possible recovery. It was a fantastic experience and I want to come back again. Thanks to all the team, and I mean every single person in the team to make it all happen. I have really enjoyed it so thank you.”

Nobuatsu Aoki: “I had struggled a bit on my lap times and Josh recovered everything for me. I am really sorry for that. Dan also did a fantastic job. The mechanics who fought with us never gave up. They were so perfect, that I would like to do this again with this exact same team members next year.”

Makoto Busujima – Team Manager: “First of all I am very glad that all of the riders came back safely. I have realised how high the potential of the GSX-R1000 is from looking at the lap times. Every year I look very much forward to the race and have a real passion for it. I am actually a bit jealous for Aoki to have such a great team. If I were to have an offer from them once again next year, I would definitely want to join this team again.” 

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