Other factories did everything within their means to end its run, but all to no avail. Yamaha Factory Racing has won the Suzuka 8 Hours for the third successive year, with Alex Lowes finishing the event close to one lap clear of the nearest challenger.

Lowes and team-mates Michael van der Mark and Katsuyuki Nakasuga posted 216 laps in eight hours, eventually coming home more than two minutes ahead of Kawasaki Team Green's Leon Haslam, Kazuma Watanabe and Azlan Shah Bin Kamaruzaman for a historic triumph in the 40th running of the prestigious Japanese event.

FCC TSR Honda saved HRC's blushes with riders Dominique Aegerter, Randy de Puniet and Josh Hook finishing one lap behind the race winner after late mechanical issues had threatened their finishing of the event.

Ultimately the result was emphatic. But the #21 Yamaha team had come under intense pressure during the opening two hours of the race, as the MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda entry, which ran Jack Miller, Takaaki Nakagami and Takumi Takahashi, led early on.

Australian Miller was ploughing ahead in the second hour, with Yamaha's Lowes always close behind, a riveting fight set to ensue. The race's decisive move came at the Esses, the Englishman out-braking the Australian and edging clear to establish a narrow advantage of around four seconds.

But an hour later and MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda's victory hopes were slain, as Nakagami dropped the CBR1000RR SP2, necessitating a pit stop for a change of lighting, and, later on, bodywork. For Yamaha, the coast was clear, its rider line up needing to limit the risks in the race's second half.

With MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda dropping to fourth thanks to those pit stops, FCC TSR Honda were maintaining a solid second place, ahead of Kawasaki Team Green.

That was until disaster struck in the final hour, as Randy de Puniet was forced into pit lane with a bike whose internals had appeared to have caught fire. The small blaze was quickly extinguished, and, as the CBR1000RR SP2 was rigorously checked for damage, there was a creeping suspicion the team's podium hopes had been dashed.

Fortunately, damage was minimum, and the team rejoined the action a place down, with Kawasaki Team Green - and the seriously impressive Leon Haslam - holding a well earned second.

Yamaha Factory Racing's winning advantage was 2m 9s at the chequered flag, with riders van der Mark and Nakasuga both scoring their third triumph at the famous event. Impressively for Nakasuga, he became only the second ever rider to win the race three years running.

Praise had to go to Lowes too, the Englishman posting the fastest lap of the race - a stunning 2m 6.9s time, which was just nine tenths of a second off the pole position record. Not bad, for a bike in full race trim. The second fastest time of the race was close to a second slower.

 


Behind the podium men, Nakagami will be fearing the wrath of HRC bosses, as his mistake cost the exotically assembled MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO outfit a podium, if not a shot at winning the event outright. The second Honda team finished two laps behind the race winner.

 

The YART Yamaha squad, featuring Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Kohta Nozane scored an impressive fifth with Honda Dream Racing's Tatsuya Yamaguchi, Tomoyoshi Koyama and Ryosuke Iwato ensuring three Fireblads finished inside the top six.

Perhaps the story of the race arrived a place behind, as Yoshimura Suzuki men Sylvain Guintoli, Josh Brookes and Takuya Tsuda made a remarkable comeback from early misery.

The factory-backed Suzuki entry had fancied its chances of upsetting Yamaha's dominance after qualifying second on Saturday, but ran into technical issues early into the 8 Hour race.

Not to be deterred from falling to 60th place overall in the first hour, the trio set about fighting through the order. A seventh place finish, four laps down on the race winners, was a remarkable achievement considering.

Meanwhile, GMT94 Yamaha's David Checa, Niccolo Canepa and Mike Di Meglio secured the FIM Endurance World Championship, thanks to an eleventh place finish.

The team had gone into the race one point behind the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), but an early accident for the GSX-R swayed the championship in GMT94's favour. Not even a contentious 30 second stop-and-go penalty could hold them back, as they crossed the finish line six laps down on the race winners.

Results

1. Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Lowes/van der Mark/Nakasuga) 8h 32.9s
2. Kawasaki Team Green (Haslam/Watanabe/Kamaruzaman) +2m 9s
3. FCC TSR Honda (Aegerter/Hook/de Puniet) +1 lap
4. MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda (Miller/Nakagami/Takahashi) +2 laps
5. YART-Yamaha (Parkes/Nozane/Fritz) +4 laps
6. Honda Dream Racing (Koyama/Iwato/Yamaguchi) +4 laps
7. Yoshimura Suzuki (Guintoli/Brookes/Tsuda) +4 laps
8. Satu Hati Honda Team Asia (Pratama/Zaidi/Wilairot) +5 laps
9. MotoMapSUPPLY FutureAccess Suzuki (Waters/Aoki/Konno) +5 laps
10. Honda Dream RT Sakurai Honda (Mizuno/O'Halloran/Stauffer) +5 laps

 

By Neil Morrison

 

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