That reality was eventually snatched away by the FIM Endurance World Championship race direction officials, who this weekend learned something new about their rulebook, but the race run by the factory-backed Yamaha team was no less impressive.
For nearly eight hours, the team’s three riders (Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark, and Katsuyuki Nakasuga) kept in check the best efforts by the Kawasaki Racing Team and Red Bull Honda squads, and it wasn’t until the final stint that Alex Lowes lost track of a raging Jonathan Rea.
Featuring three riders who were close in lap times, and capable of carrying the load equally, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team was the only factory outfit to run all of its riders at the Suzuka 8-Hours.
Of course, running at the pointy end of the Suzuka field means more than just good riders, you need to have a strong team and motorcycle with you as well.
The Suzuka 8-Hours Yamaha YZF-R1 is a superbike on steroids. Free from spec-tires, spec-electroncis, and the other rulebook trappings of modern motorcycle racing, Yamaha has been able to bring the best of the best to this machine.
Machine-learning traction control from the MotoGP glory years, race-specific rubber from Bridgestone, a bevy of quick-change parts. It is quite the motorcycle to see in person, and unless you were at Suzuka this weekend, this is as close as you will get to it.
Click through the gallery below to get an up-close look at the 2019 Yamaha YZF-R1 “Tech 21” Suzuka 8-Hours race bike. We’ve left notes on photos we thought of particular interest.
Photos: © 2019 Steve English – All Rights Reserved
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