Kawasaki Racing Team emerged victors at the Suzuka 8 Hours after a disrupted race finish. Yamaha Factory Racing Team and Red Bull Honda rounded off the podium after an incredible finish at this year’s race, which handed Team SRC Kawasaki France their first world title.
After a 5-hour battle in the lead between the 3 factory teams, who were just 6 seconds from each other at the 6-hour mark, a blown engine and a crash totally shook up the last 5 minutes of the race. The race leaders Kawasaki Racing Team crashed with the red flag out 3 minutes from the finish. Despite the crash, and although Jonathan Rea did not reach the finish line, Kawasaki Racing Team were declared the winners in accordance with the rule stating that in case the race is stopped when the red flag is waved, the standings reflect positions on the previous lap.
Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu have offered Kawasaki its first victory at Suzuka since 1993. After four back-to-back wins, Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, the winners of the last two editions) finished second ahead of Red Bull Honda (Takumi Takahashi, Stefan Bradl and Ryuichi Kiyonari).
F.C.C. TSR Honda France stoutly defended their 4th place against Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing for the entire duration of the race. Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike Di Meglio went all out to achieve their objective but did not succeed in taking a second world championship crown for F.C.C. TSR Honda France.
The first European team past the finish line, YART Yamaha, were 6th, ahead of Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda who did a superb climb back up after starting the race with a 1 mn-30s penalty.
Four Japanese teams who were in the leading pack right from the start of the race, S-Pulse Dream Racing (Suzuki), KYB Moriwaki Racing (Honda), Honda Dream RT Sakurai and Honda Asia Dream Racing with Showa, rounded off the Top 10.
Title goes to Team SRC Kawasaki France
Just before Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) crashed, there was another spectacular upset at the end of the race. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team were lapping in 9th place and looking certain to win their 16th world title when engine failure put paid to nearly 8 hours of hard slog by Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson and Gregg Black. Team SRC Kawasaki France’s 11th-place finish with riders Jérémy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa enabled the French team to conquer their first-ever FIM Endurance World Championship title.
Four Europeans teams finished in the Top 20. Honda Endurance Racing were 13th and Bolliger Team Switzerland 15th (following a start from 31st), ahead of Team ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance. Omega Maco Racing were 20th.
The 42nd edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours drew 109,000 spectators including 65,500 on Sunday (+8%) despite a typhoon warning on Saturday.
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