THE UL­TI­MATE SPE­CIALS

The fac­to­ries once again threw the kitchen sink at their en­tries for the Suzuka 8-Hour, re­sult­ing in the hottest su­per­bikes on the planet

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Si­mon Pat­ter­son & Mat Ox­ley

There is no other mo­tor­cy­cle race like the Suzuka 8-Hour. Like the Isle of Man TT, the Bol d’or and the Day­tona 200 it is one of bike rac­ing’s clas­sics, a stand­out event that has a flavour and an at­mos­phere all of its own.

The bikes are more spe­cial than any­thing you’ve ever seen, wher­ever you’ve been. The Ja­panese fac­to­ries put more ef­fort into this one race than they put into any other sin­gle race, even a Mo­togp round. This is the one event they want to win more than any other, not only be­cause it has a ma­jor im­pact on Ja­panese bike sales but be­cause it’s a huge mat­ter of pride. Win Suzuka and you’ve made the other fac­to­ries look silly.

Con­sider the case of this year’s win­ner. Yamaha’s 8-Hour R1 is jaw­drop­ping trick, a no-ex­pense-spared spe­cial, cre­ated with ul­ti­mate love and care by Yamaha’s race depart­ment. Bradley Smith, who rode it to vic­tory last year, said it felt just like his M1 Mo­togp bike. It was cer­tainly much, much more spe­cial than the R1 Yamaha run in World Su­per­bikes, be­cause the WSB crown sits way, way be­low the 8-Hour in the fac­to­ries’ list of pri­or­i­ties. Don’t be­lieve it? Take a closer look at the big fac­tory con­tenders and you may change your mind.

‘ Win Suzuka and you’ve made the other fac­to­ries look silly’

The 2016 Suzuka 8-Hour vic­tors − the fac­tory Yamaha squad of Lowes, Es­par­garo and Naka­suga Looks like an R1 M, but be­neath the fair­ings it’s to­tally dif­fer­ent

Top sus­pen­sion team Built by KYB, prob­a­bly the most fa­mous sus­pen­sion builder you’ve never heard of (and sup­plier of OEM parts to many Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers). They might not be well known for their rac­ing, but there’s more sus­pen­sion techs on hand than some teams have me­chan­ics for Suzuka. Switched on Fa­mously de­scribed by Bradley Smith in 2015 as closer to his M1 Mo­togp ma­chine than that of any R1 he’d rid­den, the team still made sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments for 2016, in­clud­ing an ex­tra 10% fuel ef­fi­ciency that handed them a huge ad­van­tage. Light show The R1 might have at­tracted abuse for its bug-eyed look – but the head­light po­si­tion­ing came into its own dur­ing the race, with the off­set lights do­ing an ex­cel­lent job of throw­ing light around a bend. Cover story Putting their faith in the Bri­tish, Yamaha went to Hert­ford­shire­based GB Rac­ing for their crash pro­tec­tion equip­ment – which thank­fully for them, didn’t get tested out in the race.

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