The factory Yamaha team of Alex Lowes, Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Michael van der Mark have spent the first half of this year’s Suzuka 8 Hour race firmly in control, holding a constant lead of a minute and a half over FCC TSR Honda as the race reached the four-hour mark.
They had an early challenge from the Musashi Harc Pro Honda squad, with Jack Miller and Takumi Takahashi both keeping the pressure on Nakasuga and Lowes in the opening hours of the race, but a crash from Moto2 racer Takaaki Nakagami allowed van der Mark to pull the team clear at the front of the field.
Musashi are currently sitting in fourth place, just behind Leon Haslam’s Team Green Kawasaki team in third, but with only thirty seconds separating the three teams. It was a less auspicious start for the fifth of the factory teams, however, with a crash for Takumi Tsuda on only the second lap leaving Yoshimura Suzuki’s BSB duo of Josh Brookes and Sylvain Guintoli with a lot of work to do.
Yamaha Austria leads the charge for the Endurance World Championship crown in fifth, after a crash for the SERT team leaves them a distant 26th, but GMT94 Yamaha currently hold a narrow championship lead from 12th place.