Why is the 8-Hour is so special?
The Suzuki 8-Hour may be part of the World Endurance Championship but it is far more than just another round.
The big four Japanese manufacturers have a lot of pride and prestige at stake, given that they have always run productionbased machines at the 8-Hour, which first started in 1978 under semi-production TT- F1 rules - 10 years before the roadbike-based WSB series became a reality.
The 8-Hour used to be a full factory affair, with truly top GP and WSB riders such as Graeme Crosby, Fred Merkel, Mike Baldwin, Wayne Gardner, Kevin Magee, Martin Wimmer, Dominique Sarron, Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson, Mick Doohan, Daryl Beattie, Aaron Slight, Doug Polen, Tadayuki Okada, Colin Edwards, Noriyuki Haga, Tohru Ukawa, Shinichi Itoh, Alex Barros, Daijiro Kato - and even Valentino Rossi - having won it.
With an upturn in the official entries in recent years, the 8-Hour may not be quite back to the era when Motogp champions had it written into their contracts by their Japanese employers, but it has been heading back toward the global big time in recent seasons.