FIREBLADE FEELS THE HEAT
Randy De Puniet knew the heat was on as he chased a podium place on his FCC TSR Honda – when it caught fire in the closing stages of the race.
The Frenchman was chasing second spot hard when the drama hit and he had to make an emergency pit stop with only 30 minutes of the Suzuka 8-Hour remaining.
De Puniet was building up speed after a safety car had left the track and was totally unware that his Blade was engulfed in flames. Instead, he was locked in a fierce fight for second place with Leon Haslam.
He said: “I saw the black flag and thought ‘what is going on?’ I did one or two laps, and when I finally stopped the guys in the pits told me that the bike was on fire!”
“I wanted to continue, but you have to stop when you see the flag. But I felt nothing strange on the bike, and it was impossible to see what was going on.
“I knew the problem was fixed after the stop, though, and I wanted to get going again; I was disappointed because I knew we had lost second position and it was hard to stay focused until the end of the race.”