After going through the emotional roller coaster of crashing out of the lead at the Suzuka 8 Hours and accepting defeat, Jonathan Rea was overjoyed to hear Kawasaki’s appeal had been successful to give his team victory.

Rea looked set to secure Kawasaki’s first Suzuka 8 Hours win since 1993 while leading by 18 seconds inside the final five minutes of the iconic endurance race but endured a heart-breaking finish as he crashed out on oil dropped by the #2 Suzuki squad following an engine blowout just moments earlier.

The reigning World Superbike champion’s fall triggered a red flag finish to the race which provisionally saw his #10 Kawasaki squad as a non-finisher, handing the win to defending champions #21 Yamaha of Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark and Katsuyuki Nakasuga.

But following an appeal launched by Kawasaki, race direction opted to uphold the protest and reinstate Rea’s squad into the final results – taken from one lap before his crash – to see the #10 Kawasaki claim an emotional victory which Rea felt provided justice to his team.

“I cannot believe what is happening really. From being dejected and feeling that everything was out of our hands, I had already gone back to the hotel, said goodbye to all the guys, with lots of tears,” Rea said.

“I was in the restaurant already, ordering dinner, when my mechanic Uri called me and said, ‘Hey, are you sitting down?’ I thought he was going to ask me to go to another restaurant - but he then told me we had won the 8 Hours.

“I think common sense prevailed in that one. I have no words because I am really emotional and happy.”

Reflecting on the race, Rea feels an error-free charge between himself and World Superbike team-mate Leon Haslam provided the base to its race strategy as he reflected on the race that “is like hell”.

“The strategy was to work on fuel consumption and race consistency and make no mistakes,” he said. “I feel we executed that quite well although I got quite tired and cramped at the end.

“But we prepared the best way possible with the limited time we had. I am so proud to be part of the project and what an effort from KRT, KHI, KMJ who prepared for this race in two tests.

“During the race it is like hell, the hardest race you can ever imagine, but getting a result like this almost makes me want to come back for more. The emotional roller coaster is unreal.”

Rea and Haslam contested the entire Suzuka 8 Hours for the #10 Kawasaki, leaving Toprak Razgatlioglu an onlooker inside the garage despite taking part in practice and qualifying, as the team opted to use the Turkish rider in a reserve role.

 

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