For the second year in a row, a British rider has triumphed at the Suzuka 8hr race, as the MuSASHI Harc-Pro Honda team of Leon Haslam, Michael van der Mark and Takumi Takahashi took the win by a lap.
Early race leaders were the FCC TSR Honda team of Haslam’s Pata Honda WSB teammate Jonathan Rea and Samsung Honda BSB rider Ryuichi Kiyonari. However, a nasty highside for Kiyonari two hours in forced the team to retire, after suspected broken ribs ruled out further participation from the former winner.
The only other challenge to the MuSASHi squad also came from a BSB front runner, with the Yoshimura Suzuki team of Josh Brookes, Takuya Tsuda and Nobuatsu Aoki running at the front before they too were struck with misfortune, after Brookes crashed and Aoki was given a ride through penalty for pit lane speed infringements, forcing them into second.
Third was Team Kagayama Suzuki, featuring former 500GP champion Kevin Schwantz returning to professional racing for the first time in two decades, alongside former BSB race winner Yuki Kagayama and WSB runner-up Nori Haga. With Haga and Kagayama doing most of the team’s stints, Schwantz was still able to run at similar times to the front-runners.
The Honda TT Legends team suffered numerous mechanical issues, including a burnt out clutch and a crack in a rear wheel that led to unscheduled pit stops. Rising as high at 16th, they eventually recovered from 53rd place to finish 22nd.
For seven pages of coverage from this year’s Suzuka 8hrs check out this week’s MCN, available 31st July.