Author: Oli Rushby Posted: 26 Jul 2015
Yamaha made history today by storming to their first Suzuka 8 Hour victory in almost 20 years.
The Japanese marque went big for this year’s race with the all-new 2015 YZF-R1, drafting in MotoGP stars Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro to race alongside Suzuka-specialist Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
The trio were rapid all weekend, qualifying second ahead of superpole when youngster Espargaro, who had no experience of the Suzuka circuit or Yamaha’s R1 prior to testing, bagged pole position with the event’s fastest ever lap.
It didn’t all go smoothly for the factory outfit with Nakasuga struggling off the start. It was Britain’s Alex Lowes who took the initial lead on the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Reigning champions MuSASHI HARC-Pro Honda were also in the mix when twice MotoGP champion Casey Stoner took the hotseat at the first round of pit stops. However, the Aussie’s return to competitive racing didn’t last long as mechanical problems saw him crash out heavily, breaking his leg and shoulder blade.
Yamaha shrugged off a mid-race 30 sec stop and go penalty to take the win by over a minute from FCC-TSR Honda’s Dominque Aegerter, Josh Hook and Kyle Smith.
Team Kagayama completed the podium with it’s all-star line-up of Yukio Kagayama, Noriyuki Haga and Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Lowes’ Yoshimura team finished fifth after fighting back following a crash for Takaya Tsuda. British Superbike racers Tommy Bridewell and Jason O’Halloran were forced to withdraw following crashes for their respective teams.
It's the first time Yamaha have won the prestigious endurance race since Noriyuki Haga and Colin Edwards took victory for the Iwata factory in 1996.
1. Nakasuga/Espargaro/Smith Yamaha Factory Racing 204 laps
2. Aegerter/Hook/Smith FCC TSR Honda +1'17.411s
3. Kagayama/Haga/Kiyonari Team Kagayama Suzuki -1 lap
4. Philippe/Delhalle/Masson Suzuki Endurance Racing Team -2 laps
5. Tsuda/Lowes/Waters Yoshimura Suzuki -3 laps
6. Checa/Foray/Gines GMT94 Yamaha -3 laps
7. Costa/Gimbert/Foray Honda Endurance Racing -3 laps
8. Hiura/Kamei/Yasuda Honda Suzuka Racing Team -4 laps
9. Yanagawa/Yudhistira/Watanabe Team Green Kawasaki -5 laps
10. Konno/Aoki/Ogata Motomap Supply Suzuki -5 laps