35th Anniversary Suzuka 8 Hour Race


Suzuki is aiming for victory in this weekend's 35th-Anniversary Suzuka 8-Hour race in Japan, as a massive entry of 66 teams line up ready to battle it out for the top-step of the podium at round three of the FIM World Endurance Championship.

Reigning World Champions and current series leaders, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), heads to the spectacular figure-of-eight-style 5,851m circuit with a 10-point lead over Honda TT Legends. But the permanent WEC Championship runners will be up against Japan's finest factory riders and teams; all on a mission for victory in what has become the country's most prestigious motorcycle event to win. And this year's event - as well as the 35th Anniversary of the 8-Hour event - will also celebrate the 50th year of the Suzuka circuit, which was constructed in 1962.SERT riders Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Yukio Kagayama - who has joined the team for three of the five rounds - will be up against the might of the home Japanese Yoshimura Suzuki Team on its factory GSX-R1000; an uprated version developed from the machine campaigned in several World Superbike events last season in the hands of former Australian Superbike Champion Josh Waters - and now in the hands and further development of the FIXI Crescent Suzuki WSB team.

Waters is joined by Briton and current FIXI Crescent Suzuki World Superbike team racer Leon Camier and also long-time Suzuki Factory Development rider and former Suzuki GP racer Nobuatsu Aoki.

Yoshimura Suzuki is the only team to have competed in every single Suzuka 8-Hour race and, following successful performances and new data acquisition at the recent Suzuka 8-Hour Test a fortnight ago, hopes to lift its sixth victory under the guidance of Team Manager Yohei Kato; the grandson of the legendary Pops Yoshimura and nephew of Fujio Yoshimura.

Yohei Kato:

"This year it is the 50th anniversary for Suzuka circuit and the 35th Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance race. We are proud that the Yoshimura Suzuki Team has never missed a race and it is essential that our name is part of the event; and at the same time, it is our most important race.

"As it is very well known, the Suzuka 8-Hour race is an endurance event, but with a very high-speed lap time - just like a sprint race - so we hope our engine development through WSBK and our long-time experiences of the Suzuka 8-Hour will be an advantage.

"The race is going to be very competitive, however, with very strong rivals from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and BMW, and we are aiming for the best possible result along with World Champions SERT, which uses the same-specification engine as the Yoshimura team."

Leon Camier:

"I am really looking forward to the Suzuka 8-Hour race - it's one of the biggest races in the year and it's one that is so big and important in Japan. I have raced it before, but it's hard to explain what the atmosphere is like unless you see it for yourself. The tests went pretty well recently, though the Yoshimura Suzuki felt quite a bit different to the bike I race in World Superbikes. The biggest difference is the tyres and it took a little while to understand the Bridgestones and how they behave. The Suzuka 8-Hour bike is tuned for Endurance and because I have to share the bike with other riders, it means that we all have to compromise on the set-up. My team mates have different riding styles to me, so it's a case of trying to find the best set-up for all us. We started doing this in the test and we'll continue the work on it during the first practices, but I think we'll be OK for the race.

"Yoshimura has a great history in this race and hopefully I can help them write a new chapter. It is often hot and humid at the Suzuka 8-Hour, but I feel fit and ready for it and would like to get on the podium and say thank you to Yoshimura for asking me and also FIXI Crescent Suzuki for giving me this chance."

Nobuatsu Aoki:

"We have completed a few tests at Suzuka circuit and so far we've had positive results. The engine has been upgraded this year with additional WSBK development and then I have concentrated on the set-up of the ignition and also bike geometry. I am glad that I was able to spend more time on machine set-up than in previous years and hope it makes for faster lap times for all three riders.

"Last year we missed the victory only by just 38.765 seconds, and that was a really disappointing result. This year we have to sharpen every single lap during the eight hours and my desire for the team is for victory this year."

Josh Waters:

"I was very surprised and honoured when Yoshimura Suzuki asked me to race at Suzuka again as there are so many great Suzuki riders worldwide who want to do the 8 Hours, so to be chosen was a really good feeling.

"I'll definitely be trying my best and I learnt a lot from last year's event, so hopefully this year we can go even better. It's an uprated version of the bike that I raced in World Superbike last year with Yoshimura Suzuki. The engine will be even better this year though, as Yoshimura supplies the FIXI Crescent Suzuki World Superbike team now, so it will be a great experience. To race on the Bridgestone tyres is also a positive and they're MotoGP-spec, which is awesome."

Free Practice for the Suzuka 8-Hour starts on Thursday with the main Suzuka 8-Hour race at 11.30 local time on Sunday. Live timing throughout the event will be available on the FIM Live website: .fim-live.com

Current World Endurance Championship Standings (after 2 of 5 rounds): 1 SERT (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 54 points, 2 Honda TT Legends 44, 3 SRC Kawasaki 40, 4 Yamalube Folch Endurance 37, 5 BMW Motorrad 35, 6 Bolliger Team Switzerland 29, 7 Monster Energy Yamaha 28, 8 Team RC2L 27, 9 Yamaha France GMT94 24, 10 Team Flembbo Djimiant Serbia 19.

Related Motorsport Articles

84,747 articles