Suzuka: the most im­por­tant race in the world for Ja­panese manufacturers.



Jonny Rea is the best Su­per­bike racer in the world, but he isn’t an ex­pe­ri­enced en­durance rider. He tore the field a new one in qual­i­fy­ing, but couldn’t get away in the race. The pic­ture shows how close he and the Yamaha were in first and sec­ond places un­til Jonny ran out of fuel com­ing into the pits. Then a crash be­hind the pace car con­signed the fac­tory Kawasaki to the bot­tom step of the podium.


Alex Lowes braces him­self ready to take the fac­tory Yamaha to the che­quered flag for the third year run­ning. Alex rode the ses­sion af­ter the ri­val Kawasaki had run dry com­ing into the pits and he seized the chance to open a ten sec­ond lead, the race’s turn­ing point. ‘It is a dream to ride in the 8‰Hours; it is a dream to ride a works bike in the 8‰Hours; it is a dream to win the 8‰Hours; to win it three times...’


When Kat­suyuki Naka­suga was in­jured in prac­tice the Yamaha team were wor­ried. Mickey van der Mark and Alex Lowes did what the sit­u­a­tion de­manded and what the team has done for the pre­vi­ous three years. They didn’t make a mis­take. In fact Alex can’t think of one er­ror team or rider have made in this amaz­ing run of four con­sec­u­tive wins. Do not un­der­es­ti­mate how re­lieved and im­pressed Yamaha are.


The large BSB con­tin­gent all im­pressed. Leon Haslam on the Kawasaki, Brad Ray in an epic fight­back to 10th on the Yoshi Suzuki (pic­tured), Chris­tian Id­don and Michael Laverty on their way to fourth in the cham­pi­onship on a BMW, and Peter Hick­man on his first visit.


HRC en­tered a fac­tory team for the first time in ten years. They led the first ses­sion thanks to Taka­hashi in the wet, backed up by Motogp man Nak­agami, but a mid-race de­ci­sion to put third rider P J Ja­cob­sen out for his first and only ses­sion in tricky con­di­tions cost the team time. They ended up sec­ond, beaten by just 30 sec­onds. Not what was re­quired. The only com­pen­sa­tion is that a Honda team won the cham­pi­onship.

‘It is a dream to ride in the 8 Hours; it is a dream to win the 8 Hours’

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