Team KAGAYAMA Suzuki riders Noriyuki Haga, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Yukio Kagayama raced their GSX-R1000 into third place at the prestigious 38th ‘Coca-Cola Zero’ Suzuka 8 Hours World Endurance Championship second round at Suzuka Circuit in Japan today.
As Suzuki Motor Corporation celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the icons GSX-R Superbike with a strong presence at its home race, the Japanese team finished on 203 laps and just one-and-a-half minutes behind the winners after more than 1000km of racing; as a total of four Suzuki-supported teams filled the top-10 positions.
Fourteen-times World Endurance Champions Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) extended its lead in the series to 29 points after bringing home fourth position (202 laps) with Yoshimura SUZUKI Shell Advance fifth (201 laps) and MotoMap Supply Suzuki 10th with 199 laps of the spectacular 5.821km circuit.
Team KAGAYAMA’S Kiyonari took an early lead from the start until Suzuka first-timer Alex Lowes moved ahead aboard his Yoshimura Suzuki. The British rider headed the 70-rider field until the fourth lap, lost it briefly, only to regain it for 25 laps until his first pit-in and rider change. Team-mate Takuya Tsuda was unfortunate to slip-off during his first stint, damaging the screen but he continued to claw back to second position by the 50th lap when he handed back to Lowes, and after the second of a total of six Safety Car incidents during the race.
Kagayama also suffered a small crash during his first stint but remounted, undamaged, and the team fought back-up to third position approaching the half-way stage.
SERT, who started from 18th on the grid, moved into fifth position with Vincent Philippe at the five-hour mark following a crash in Sunday morning warm-up, but claimed an extra position in the closing stages. At that five-hour mark, stage Yoshimura was running in seventh and MotoMap Supply Suzuki 10th; a position the Japanese team kept until the flag, whereas Yoshimura Suzuki fought back to claim a further two positions by the end of the race. #30 SUZUKI ENDURANCE RACING TEAM
“It was a very hard race, we had a lot of problems here and did a lot of setting-adjustments before the race, but did not perfect it. However the result is good for the team and everyone.”
“I am finally happy to get fourth place, but it was hard. We decided to race just two riders – Vincent and myself – and focussed on making no mistakes and managing the race.”
“It was very good for us, especially for the championship, good for Suzuki, Dunlop and our team.”
#12 YOSHIMURA SUZUKI Shell ADVANCE
“I really enjoyed Suzuka a lot but it was difficult race. We got a good start, had some problems, but the final result was good. Leading for the first hour was also a great experience.”
“It was really good to have a battle with Casey Stoner. He was running faster but I could follow him. After that I had a small crash and then I was hit from behind and there was nothing I could do, so I am sorry for the trouble caused to the team.”
Again Suzuka was tough. Unfortunately we had a few problems, but that’s racing.”
#17 Team KAGAYAMA
“It’s great to get a podium again for our team, sponsors and supporters. I promised Noriyuki and Ryuichi to provide a great bike with the potential to win, but couldn’t quite manage this; so feel sorry for both our great riders. I also had a small crash, so a little disappointed, although very proud of our riders and team.”
“I am very happy with the podium result and Ryuichi really worked hard. He rode three stints and really appreciate his effort for our team, so would really like to thank him.”
“I am very happy with third place on the podium. On my final stint I rode very carefully and always checking pit signals. My team mates are very great experienced riders, so was sure we would get a good result. I had small slip-offs on Thursday and Friday, so apologies to our team for the extra work I caused.”
#32 Moto Map SUPPLY
“I’d like to thank my team mates, who are great riders, and I am very proud of today’s result for us. We will now concentrate on the All Japan Road Racing series after this.”
It was really tough race today and we had some small issues where we could not push too hard. But I believe we did a good job and brought the machine home in 10th; so hopefully the data we acquired will help the MotoMap SUPPLY team in the future.
“I hoped to run faster but it was difficult with the high temperatures today, although after 5pm it cooled down and I was faster. I’m really happy with the race and I’d like to thank our sponsors and supporters.”
Suzuka 8 Hours Result: 1 Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Yamaha) 204 laps, 2 FCC TSR Honda (Honda) 204, 3 Team KAGAYAMA (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 203, 4 SERT (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 202, 5 Yoshimura SUZUKI Shell ADVANCE (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 201, 6 GMT94 Yamaha (Yamaha) 201, 7 Honda Endurance Racing (Honda) 201, 8 Honda Suzuka Racing Team (Honda) 200, 9 Team GREEN (Kawasaki) 199, 10 MotoMap SUPPLY (Suzuki GSX-R1000) 199.