The #21 Yamaha Factory Racing Team has taken a surprise victory at the 2019 Suzuka 8 Hours after Jonathan Rea crashed out while leading inside the final minute of the race which triggered a red flag finish.

Rea had been set to charge to Kawasaki’s first Suzuka 8 Hours win since 1993 after surviving late scares from a crashing backmarker and rain which hit the track in the final 30 minutes.

But the drama unfolded when the #2 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team suffered a terminal engine issue with five minutes to go, fighting for the Endurance World Championship title against the #11 Team SRC Kawasaki, forcing Etienne Masson to retire in tears at the side of the track.

With suspected oil down across the first sector of the track from the #2 Suzuki, Rea crashed out while leading by 20 seconds which triggered an early red flag stoppage. With the #10 Kawasaki failing to finish the leading team were not in the final classification which hands defending Suzuka 8 Hours champions #21 Yamaha of Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark and Katsuyuki Nakasuga victory.

The triumph marks Yamaha’s fifth consecutive win at the iconic endurance race with the #33 Red Bull Honda of Takumi Takahashi, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Stefan Bradl promoted to second place.

Outgoing EWC champions #1 FCC TSR Honda of Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike Di Meglio completed the overall podium to also take second place in the final championship standings behind new champions #11 Kawasaki of Jeremy Guarnoni, David Checa and Erwan Nigon.