Honda triumph at Suzuka after top three crash

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BSB star Yukio Kagayama lost his chance to win the Suzuka eight-hour endurance race when an oil spill took out his team after just one lap.

Kagayama’s team mate Atsushi Watanabe started second on the grid behind the Honda FireBlade of Shinichi Itoh. The pair got off to a good start followed by Nicky Hayden on the Seven stars Honda who had managed to jump up from sixth on the grid.

But it all went wrong when they came round to start the second lap. The Over Racing Yamaha R1 had blown its engine just before the first corner and the resulting oil slick caught out all three lead bikes when they came round for the first flying lap.

The incident caused controversy. Hayden claimed the oil flags were not shown early enough for riders to prepare for the corner, whilst the fact the three bikes were loaded onto the ‘wrecker truck’ meant that they were forced to retire, rather than the riders pushing the bikes back to the pits for repairs. Despite this the Hayden and Okada bikes were repaired and restarted the race only to be immediately black-flagged.

After the safety car had pulled back in 20 minutes later the Seven Stars Honda of Tohru Ukawa and Hitoyasu Izutsu was left fighting for the lead with the Kenz J Trust Suzuki of Katsuaki Fujiwara and Keiichi Kitagawa.

The fight lasted two hours but a minor spill saw the Seven Stars Honda bike drop down the pack. The team never recovered and eventually retired from the race an hour later.

The Seven Stars retirement left Fujiwara’s Kenz J Trust GSX-R1000 fighting it out with the Sakurai Honda SP-W of Yukio Nukumi and Manabu Kamada.

The Kenz Suzuki lead for most of the race and looked set to take the win after developing an almost two-minute lead, but a routine pitstop put an end to the teams hopes when an electrical problem saw the bike refuse to restart.

This left the way clear for the Sakurai Honda to take the lead and eventually win the race.

With the inclusion of so many non-championship point scoring bikes in the race that far exceed the power of the regular World Endurance bikes it was no surprise that no regular teams qualified higher than 22nd on the grid. But the upsets in the race and the experience of the teams have seen some amazing results over the eight hours.

Championship leaders Zonghsen 1 were putting in a storming race, working their way through the field, and were challenging for sixth place when the frame lug that mounts the rear shock to the frame on the GSX-R1000 snapped forcing the team to retire.

This left the way clear for the British Suzuki GB Phase One team and the French Police Nationale team to move up the field.

The two teams fought it out for the rest of the race but James Ellison, the only British rider in the race, managed to pull out a lead on the French team to take fourth place. As the highest scoring regular bike the British team are now just 14 points off championship leader Zongshen 1.

1) Honda Sakurai (Nukumi,Kamada). 2) Yamaha YSP Presto (Nakatomi, Yoshikawa). 3) Honda FCC TSR (Tsujimura, Itoh). 4) Suzuki GB Phase One (Pridmore, Ellison, Lindstrom). 5) Suzuki Police Nationale (Giabbani, Kishida). 6) Yamaha Clever Wolf (Saito, Fukumi). 7) Honda Weider DD Boys (Deguchi, Aoki). 8) Suzuki Corona TiForce (Fergusson, Gobert). 9) Suzuki Corona TriForce (Szoke, Young). 10) Honda Masked Riders (Yamaguchi, Takahashi).

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MCN Staff

By MCN Staff