Look back: Valentino Rossi's only Suzuka 8 Hour win

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While he is arguably the Greatest of all Time in MotoGP, there's more strings to Valentino Rossi's bow than just prototype racing, as the nine-time world champion showed in 2001 by taking victory in the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race. The Italian's only win came in his second attempt at the race, with 2000 WSB champion Colin Edwards his team-mate.

Rossi got his first taste of the 8 Hour race the previous year, partnering Edwards. Rossi promptly crashed the bike - a Honda SP-1 - on his first stint. The team repaired the bike, only for Edwards to crash and set it on fire. Rossi's first Suzuki 8 Hour race was over.

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One year later the pair returned, again riding Honda's V-twin SP-1, and qualified third. Despite taking the win it wasn't all plain sailing. On lap 117 Tadayuki Okada crashed at the final chicane in front of Rossi, forcing the Italian onto the grass. Shortly after another incident at the chicane meant the pace car had to take to the track, bringing the top four teams onto the same lap and forcing Rossi to put in a strong final stint to regain a comfortable lead.

Although the crash didn't help, Okada and Barros's chances of winning were ultimately over when a mistake during the last pit stop delayed them by one minute. 

After eight hours of racing Rossi and Edwards had completed 217 laps and beat Tadyuki Okada and Alex Barros by just 14 seconds. Speaking after the victory, Rossi said: "To race and win an event like this is very exciting. When I asked Honda if I could do this race last year it said I should do it for two years because it is so difficult to win at your first attempt.

"That's the way it turned out because last year I had a stupid crash while leading. To win after such a disappointment is fantastic."

 

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Liam Marsden

By Liam Marsden

Former MCN Web Producer