The Suzuki Castrol team have won the final round of the World Endurance championship, the Vallelunga 200, despite their star rider being unable to ride following a qualifying crash.
The duo of Matthieu Lagrive and Keiichi Kitagawa led after the opening laps, and kept the top spot until the flag. The only team to finish on the same lap was the British Yamaha Phase One Endurance team of Warwick Nowland and Damian Cudlin. Third place went to the Yamaha Austria squad of Igor Jerman and Thomas Hinterreiter, who were battling for second place until losing out to Phase One with just eight laps to go.
The all-British Diablo 666 squad were hoping MCN support would bring luck for riders James Hutchins, Steve Mizera and Russell Baker. Things did not start well, with an electrical problem on the number two machine during the first practice session. This was traced to a defective fuel pump, but Mizera didn’t even get a chance to ride. And then the number one bike had a defective generator. This meant a complete rebuild due to the quantity of swarf deposited in the engine.
With two hours before the final practice session it was decided to run a spare engine donated by Diablo’s partner team, Bolliger Kawasaki. Fitted with just ten minutes to spare, the team then had two bikes operational.
Qualifying saw a more relaxing session with Hutchins benefiting from a stick rear Pirelli qualifying tyre for the first time in the season. With that help, he recorded a time of 1:43.815 to start from ninth on the grid.
Things looked good for race day, but as the bike left the line, a wheel hub failed. First rider James Hutchins had to push the bike up the pit lane. Rejoining the race with a new wheel, Hutchins managed to post one of the fastest of the race. From a field of thirty finishers, the Diablo 666 team finally finished a creditable 16th place, and claimed fifth overall in the 2005 final championship standings.