The Suzuka 8 hour race has come to an end, and what a race it was!
The Suzuka circuit offers a unique figure-of-eight layout and consequently a considerable challenge thanks to its wide variety of corners, which always secures some spectacular race conditions.
Throughout the qualifications though things were looking great for teams YART Yamaha, Yoshimura SERT Motul and F.C.C. TSR Honda France. After their top 10 trial, team YART secured the second starting place, Yoshimura SERT Motul was on fourth place and finally F.C.C. TSR Honda France acquired 10th place.
At exactly 11.30AM Japan Standard Time, the Suzuka race started! With Gregg Black’s fantastic start, team Yoshimura SERT Motul was first to leave the starting positions and we were set for a fantastic 8 hour race.
Shortly after the start YART started chasing Yoshimura SERT Motul together with team HRC. In those first hours it was toe to toe between HRC and YART. Despite the thrilling duel, YART unintentionally boosted HRC’s victory chances when in the second hour YART was eliminated from contention due to mechanical issues.
Karel Hanika had to push the bike back to the pits and with the time lost in the stoppage and subsequent repairs the squad dropped 13 laps off the lead.
For his effort Karel Hanika would later receive the Anthony Delhalle EWC Spirit trophy after his incredible feat to come back to the box on foot with his bike down.
Second place was however quickly recovered by Yoshimura SERT Motul who started the pursuit on HRC’s tail.
Up until the seventh hour Yoshimura SERT Motul was riding in second place when light rain started to fall onto the Suzuka circuit. While it had the potential of slowing down team HRC, it caught Frenchman Gregg Black off guard going down in turn 1 while running in second position.
Marshals were able to help Black get the stranded bike out of the gravel trap but the Yoshimura SERT Motul crew lost further time in repairing the bike, dropping the Suzuki squad outside the top 10.
With the Yoshimura SERT Motul team no longer in the fight, Nagashima brought the #33 Honda home as the sun set at Suzuka.
The F.C.C. TSR Honda France squad, which locked in a tight battle with YART for the EWC title, completed an all-Honda top four.
However, during the post-race technical inspection, motorcycle no. 104 (TOHO Racing), which finished in second position, was disqualified from the results after a fuel tank capacity control. The control recorded a fuel tank overcapacity.
As such, the positions of all other finishers were reclassified and points will be reallocated to the eligible finishers. This puts the F.C.C. TSR Honda France team in an impressive third place. Way to go guys!
Interesting side note, all top 5 teams were riding Bridgestone tyres in the Suzuka race. Furthermore, it is the 16th win in a row for Bridgestone. Proud! 🤘
Next race up, Bol d’Or (September 14th-17th) in Le Castellet! Let’s get ready for a thrilling season finale!