Suzuka 8 Hours: Yamaha dominates 2017 edition
Yamaha dominated the 40th running of the Suzuka 8 Hours, scoring its third successive win at the Japanese endurance classic since its return in 2015.
The #21 Yamaha and the #634 HARC-Pro Honda fought an emphatic duel in the first 90 minutes of the race after breaking away from the #11 Kawasaki, which had taken an early lead from third on the grid.
The battle for the lead was settled when Alex Lowes - who shares the #21 YZF-R1 with Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Michael van der Mark - made a decisive move at the Esses over HARC-Pro’s Jack Miller in the second hour.
The Honda outfit continued to run around four seconds behind the Yamaha until Takaaki Nakagami fell down in the third hour, damaging the CBR1000RR SP2.
The Japanese rider had to pit immediately for a change of headlamp - the fairing was replaced later on - dropping him, Miller and Takumi Takahashi down to fourth.
With challenge from their nearest rival subsiding early on - in a repeat of the 2015 edition - the way was clear for Yamaha to continue its winning streak In Suzuka 8 Hours.
With this result, Nakasuga became the first rider to score three consecutive Suzuka wins, having been part of Yamaha’s line-up since 2015.
Some way behind Yamaha, the #11 Kawasaki crew of Leon Haslam, Kazuma Watanabe and Azlan Shah finished second, inheriting the runner-up spot from the #5 FCC TSR Honda in the final hour.
The Honda squad had looked comfortable in its position until a fire broke out inside the lower bodywork, forcing Randy de Puniet - who shares the bike with Dominique Aegerter and Stefan Bradl’s replacement Josh Hook - to stop for safety reasons.
By the time he came into the pits, the fire had been put out automatically and he was soon allowed to rejoin the track after precautionary checks. But the time lost in the pits proved costly, dropping the crew down in third place.
The #7 YART Yamaha trio of Broc Parkes, Kohta Nazane and Marvin Fritz finished fifth behind the Miller-Nakagami-Takahashi crew, while Tomoyoshi Koyama, Ryosuke Iwato and Tatsuya Yamaguchi were sixth for Honda Dream Racing,
The #12 Yoshimura Suzuki squad - which fielded Sylvain Guintoli, Josh Brookes and Takuya Tsuda - staged a superb recovery drive to finish seventh, having lost several laps in the first 30 minutes with a technical problem.
Race Results (top 10):
|1||21||Yamaha Factory Racing Team|| |
Michael van der Mark
Kawasaki Team Green
|3||5||F.C.C. TSR Honda |
Randy de Puniet
Musashi RT HARC-Pro Honda
|5||7||YART Yamaha|| |
|6||104||Honda Dream Racing|| |
Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing
Honda Team Asia
Dimas Ekky Pratama
Md Zaqhwan Zaidi
MotoMap Supply FutureAccess
|10||72||Honda Team RT Sakurai|| |
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