The #21 Yamaha Factory Racing Team has survived a frantic Suzuka 8 Hours to defend its title with Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark sharing rider duties with the absence of injured team-mate Katsuyuki Nakasuga, creating history with a fourth consecutive victory for the team.

In a race which started in the wet before drying out, only to be hit with a second heavy rain shower with three hours remaining, the factory Yamaha made quick work of reeling in the #33 Red Bull Honda with Japan Post once conditions dried, while the #11 Kawasaki Team Green made it a three-way fight for victory.

The mid-race rain proved pivotal, arriving just after the leading Yamaha and Kawasaki teams had pitted on schedule, which allowed Honda to pit behind the safety car for wet tyres and effectively save a stop.

The rain became the undoing of Kawasaki’s charge as reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea crashing on the wet track still using dry tyres. Despite suffering minor damage to the ZX-10RR, the fall saw the team drop off the lead lap of the #21 Yamaha and #33 Honda.

But once racing resumed van der Mark made quick work reeling in Jacobsen on the Honda to retake the lead with just over two hours of racing remaining.

A further safety car period, caused by an oil spill which needed an extensive clear up on a wet track, effectively voided almost an hour of the race and with the front two racing side-by-side it set up a two-hour sprint race for victory.

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The #21 Yamaha at the hands of van der Mark gradually built a time cushion on the #33 Honda before handing over to team-mate Lowes, with Nakasuga unable to race having suffered an injury on Saturday.

The British rider, who has brought home the factory Yamaha for the past two years, was trusted with the final stint and after a splash and dash fuel stop in the final 20 minutes he held on to a 30-second advantage over Takaaki Nakagami to lead the #21 Yamaha to a fourth consecutive victory at the iconic endurance event - the longest consecutive winning run by any team at Suzuka.

Despite missing the race, Nakasuga will also take the record for most consecutive wins by a rider in Suzuka 8 Hour history having been involved in all four races the #21 Yamaha as won since the arrival of the current YZF-R1 in 2015.

With the #33 Honda having to settle for second, the #11 Kawasaki of Rea, Leon Haslam and Kazuma Watanabe rounded out the podium two laps down. One lap behind the factory Kawasaki, Tommy Bridewell led home the #95 S-Pulse Dream Racing Suzuki to take fourth place with team-mates Kazuki Watanabe and Hideyuki Ogata.

In the Endurance World Championship fight, the #5 F.C.C TSR Honda of Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Alan Techer clinched the world title finishing in fifth place having seen rivals #7 YART Yamaha become an early retirement after Takuya Fujita crashed out.

Former world champions #94 GMT94 Yamaha struggled to match the front-running pace and had to settle for sixth place ahead of the #22 Honda Asia-Dream Racing and #19 Moriwaki Motul Racing Honda with star rider Ryuichi Kiyonari.

British squad #111 Honda Endurance Racing held off #12 Yoshimura Racing Suzuki to round out the top ten finishers.

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