Dominique Aegerter and Randy de Puniet have spoken of their relief at salvaging a dramatic podium finish for FCC TSR Honda at the 40th running of the Suzuka 8 Hour event, after running into mechanical problems with less than an hour of the race to play.

With Aegerter having finished his exhaustive stint in the saddle, de Puniet was defending second place from Kawasaki Team Green's Leon Haslam with less than sixty minutes remaining on the clock.

Disaster appeared to have struck when a small fire was spotted within the bodywork of the fully factory supported CBR1000RR SP2, its completion of the final stint now seriously in doubt.

Thankfully for former MotoGP rider de Puniet, the fire was quickly extinguished after an unscheduled pit stop, and after extensive checks, the Frenchman was given the green light to return to track, albeit one place down.

A third place was just reward for his efforts, and ensures he has finished on the podium on both occasions in which he has competed at the event.

"I'm really happy to finish on the podium again here," said the Frenchman. "It's my second time here and the second time on the podium. Sure we expected better and I wanted to fight with Leon at the end.

"But unfortunately my bike went on fire. I don't know exactly what happened. I stopped in the pit, and the second place disappeared. I tried to stay focused and keep third position.

"I would like to thank Honda, TSR and Bridgestone. I was really proud to ride for Honda at the Suzuka 8 Hour. I hope they're happy and I would like to come back next year. Thanks to my team-mate. They did a great job.

"And congratulations to the first and second teams. They raced amazing, especially the Yamaha team. They were so strong. So I would like to work hard and be closer next year."

Moto2 regular Aegerter also spoke of his relief at finishing the race after the issues, and can now boast of three podium finishes from four years of tackling the event.

"It was a hard day," he began. "We rode four hours and four hours. It was hard for the bike and also for me, it was quite difficult. But we managed to finish third. We had a small problem with the bike. There was a little bit of fire!

"We lost second place. For sure, it would have been a nice battle between Haslam and Randy but it's my third time on the podium and only my fourth time here, so a big thanks to the FCC TSR Honda factory team for their great support. They did a great job. Also to my team-mates.

"Thanks to the Suzuka circuit, all the Japanese fans who supported me and maybe I'll come back next year! But the concentration will be on Moto2, which starts again next week in Brno."

The team's third rider, Josh Hook, did not compete on Sunday, meaning de Puniet and Aegerter split the stints across the eight hours between them.

By Neil Morrison



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