The FCC TSR Honda team start this year’s Suzuka 8 Hour in a strong position as they fight for their first world championship, leading French squad GMT94 Yamaha by ten points as they head to Japan for the final race of the season.
But while the team might be going into the race fighting for the championship for the first time, their squad combines the best of both worlds by pairing a mainly French line-up of riders who know how to win EWC races with an experienced Japanese team who last won the Suzuka 8 Hour in 2012 with Jonathan Rea and Ryuichi Kiyonari.
And, speaking ahead of the weekend’s action, former world champion Freddy Foray says that they’re more than up for it.
“It’s my first time to compete in the Suzuka 8 Hours with a Japanese team, and I’m looking forward to it. We have more tests coming up, and we’ll be thoroughly preparing the bike for the race. We are very confident, but you never know what is going to happen in the race, so we have to be alert. We have a ten-point lead in the EWC championship, but the best way to perform well at the Suzuka 8 Hours is to believe in ourselves, and concentrate on racing.”
They’ve also got another Honda team backing them up, with the Lincolnshire-based Honda Racing team sitting in third, some 27 points behind the Yamaha team – but with veteran endurance specialist Sébastien Gimbert happy that they can bring the fight to their EWC rivals.
“I am looking forward to this final race in the EWC, Suzuka is a very special place and I always look forward to riding there. We arrive third in the championship and I hope we have a good race to retain that place and finish the year there. We have had a good year this year, the team have all worked so hard and the Fireblade has performed well in each race. We enjoyed two podiums in both the 24-hour races, but missed out in the last two eight hours. Suzuka will be tough, that’s for sure as it’s very competitive and a lot of teams, but we will do our best and hopefully finish the season on a high.”
However, while there’s a host of strong championship-contending teams lining up for this year’s race, it’s also likely that they won’t figure in the battle for the race win. Still the bastion of ultra-fast factory bikes, it might work in FCC’s favour by leaving them battling for places down the finishing order with small gaps in points.