HONDA’S HOME TURF DISASTER
While Suzuka might have been a resounding success for Yamaha for the second year in a row, it was once again an unmitigated disaster for Honda in their own back garden, with the top Honda machine being the Honda Team Asia team, securing a distant eighth.
Even worse, the factory MUSASHI HARC-PRO Honda team of former world champions Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark and three-time winner Takumi Takahashi failed to finish due to a mechanical problem.
Unable to identify the cause of the issue afterwards, Dutch World Superbike racer van der Mark was left fuming with Honda having seen his second chance in two years of adding to his tally of two wins disappear.
“Nicky went on the bike, and a couple of laps later he stopped next to the track. We didn’t know what had happened, but when I saw him on the truck I knew it was over. How much bad luck can you have two years in a row? We’ve won twice and now lost twice.
“Even the HRC guys don’t really know what’s happened. I’ve never seen so many grown up people crying. I saw it last year, but this year was even worse.
“There’s no positive we can take from it. We came here to do the 8 Hours, and we had a strong team. The only positive is that at least this year I got to ride the bike in the race.”
Even the normally restrained Hayden was lost for words after the mechanical, which saw the squad drop out of second place while battling for the lead.
“I’m not really sure what to say; obviously you come here to this race and everyone puts in a lot of effort, and the goal was to finish and try to win. We’re pretty disappointed, because the team put in a lot of effort.
“We had some kind of engine problem, which doesn’t normally happen on Hondas, so I’m sure they’re disappointed too. But they’ve won their share of this race, and you’ve got to take the good with the bad! That’s racing I guess – that’s how it is.”
Honda’s problems were compounded even further by a spate of issues for other squads down the field, with crashes ruling FCC TSR Honda and Toho Honda out of the battle for the lead, while an oil leak for the Lincolnshire-based Honda Endurance Racing in the final hour of the event saw them fall from eighth to 13th.