In Japan, the Suzuka 8-Hour is a huge deal, but for the rest of the world, it ranks on par with the rest of the FIM Endurance World Championship.
That’s kind of a shame, really, as the Endurance World Championship is the only motorcycle championship where we still see different tire manufacturers competing against each other, the bikes are beautifully technical in their own special way, and in the case of Suzuka, there are often heavy-hitters at play.
This year was no different, with Yamaha fielding its “Yamaha Factory Racing Team” with two MotoGP stars, Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith, along with factory test rider and MotoGP podium-finisher Katsuaki Nakasuga.
The dream team did not disappoint, lighting up qualifying, and riding to a semi-comfortable victory, despite a 30-second stop-and-go penalty for Espargaro’s pass under yellow flag conditions.
“As a team we started the race today with a set number of laps per rider and it was a lot of pressure for me to start the race but my first goal was that I had to finish this race,” said Katsuyuki Nakasuga. “I’ve had times when I ended the race prematurely. I want to thank all the staff, the team and all the fans for their support. I’m really glad that we have won after nineteen years.”
“I’m so happy. It was an unbelievable race,” added Pol Espargarò. “I have to say sorry to my teammates because I made a mistake during the race. We had a stop and go penalty and we lost more than one minute. My teammates were impressive, they were so fast. I gave 200% when I went out on the bike to recover this gap that we lost and we did.”
“It’s impressive what Yamaha as a factory team and a family did after so many years and I’m proud of Nakasuga-san that he rode out the first Suzuka8hours with us and also of Bradley, that we share a pit box in MotoGP,” continued Espargarò. “Normally we have many activities and we don’t get to speak often as friends. This weekend was so good for us. I’m happy because I found two great friends, and we got the 8 hours Suzuka race victory.”
“Since Tuesday night I went back to my hotel room and felt loaded up with pressure. We stood in front of all the Yamaha staff and mister Kimura and everyone who works inside the factory. We stood on the stage in Iwata and promised that we would come back and give our best and we promised them a first place and we definitely to potentially fail, but we had a great bike and teammates,” said Bradley Smith.
“We had only one small mistake during the race, which in the end was no problem at all. With the speed and the pace that my teammates were able to do, we were able to overcome it. It’s very special, the 60th anniversary for Yamaha, they are leading the MotoGP championship, but second to that was a focus to on the Suzuka8H and I’m glad that we were able to show the true potential of this bike and give them that victory after 19 years that they very well deserve,” Smith concluded.
With six safety car appearances, there was a lot of crashing in the 2015 Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race, but perhaps the most publicized was Casey Stoner’s off in the “Hairpin” corner of Turn 11. HRC confirmed that Stoner’s throttle was stuck at 26° open, which caused the crash and also caused Stoner to break his right shoulder and left leg. That crash dashed the hopes of MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO defending their victory from last year, and keeping Yamaha at bay.
For Kawasaki, the race was also a disappointment, as Team Kawasaki SRC crashed out of sixth place with Gregory Leblanc at the helm (and nearly at the end of his stint). This result will surely end their title hunt in the FIM Endurance World Championship.
For Suzuki, it was another podium for Team Kagayama, which has finished third at Suzuka the past three years in a row. Continuing with the team for 2015, Noriyuki Haga once proved that old dogs can still hunt. It’s great to see him still competing.
Race Results for the 2015 Suzuka 8-Hour Suzuka, Japan:
|1||YAMAHA FACTORY RACING TEAM||K.NAKASUGA / P.ESPARGARO / B.SMITH||Yamaha||240 Laps|
|2||F.C.C. TSR||J.HOOK / K.SMITH / D.AEGERTER||Honda||1’17.411|
|3||Team KAGAYAMA||Y.KAGAYAMA / N.HAGA / R.KIYONARI||Suzuki||1 Lap|
|4||SUZUKI ENDURANCE RACING TEAM||V.PHILIPPE / A.DELHALLE / E.MASSON||Suzuki||2 Laps|
|5||YOSHIMURA SUZUKI Shell ADVANCE||T.TSUDA / J.WATERS / A.LOWES||Suzuki||3 Laps|
|6||GMT94 YAMAHA||D.CHECA / K.FORAY / M.GINES||Yamaha||3 Laps|
|7||ENDURANCE RACING||J.DA COSTA / S.GIMBERT / F.FORAY||Honda||3 Laps|
|8||Suzuka Racing Team||D.HIURA / Y.KAMEI / T.YASUDA||Honda||4 Laps|
|9||Team GREEN||A.YANAGAWA / H.YUDHISTIRA / K.WATANABE||Kawasaki||5 Laps|
|10||MotoMap SUPPLY||Y.KONNO / N.AOKI / H.OGATA||Suzuki||5 Laps|
|11||EVA RT TEST TYPE-01 TRICK STAR||O.DEGUCHI / H.IZUTSU / E.NIGON||Kawasaki||5 Laps|
|12||TEAM BOLLIGER SWITZERLAND||R.STAMM / D.SUTTER / N.SALCHAUD||Kawasaki||5 Laps|
|13||au&Teluru?Kohara RT||K.WATANABE / T.NAGASHIMA / K.AKIYOSHI||Honda||6 Laps|
|14||TOHO Racing with MORIWAKI||T.YAMAGUCHI / T.ELIAS / R.WILAIROT||Honda||6 Laps|
|15||CONFIA Flex Motorrad39||S.TAKEISHI / T.ONISHI / D.SAKAI||BMW||7 Laps|
|16||TEAM APRIL MOTO MOTORS EVENTS||G.FASTRE / G.BLACK / Y.MIYAJIMA||Suzuki||8 Laps|
|17||Team Tras 135HP||Y.KODAMA / P.VALLCANERAS / K.TERAMOTO||BMW||8 Laps|
|18||Satu HATI. Team Asia||A.KAMARUZAMAN / D.PRATAMA / R.WILAIROT||Honda||9 Laps|
|19||Hamayuukai Hamamatsu||M.KUBOYAMA / T.NAKATSUHARA / S.NOYORI||Honda||9 Laps|
|20||TEAM R2CL||G.GIABBANI / J.STORRAR / V.LEONOV||Suzuki||9 Laps|
|21||team R1 & YAMALUBE||M.TOKINAGA / N.FUJIWARA / J.De VRIES||Yamaha||10 Laps|
|22||AKENO SPEED?YAMAHA||M.INAGAKI / T.OKUNO / A.TANAKA||Yamaha||11 Laps|
|23||Kumamoto Racing||M.YOSHIDA / K.KOJIMA / K.TOKUDOME||Honda||11 Laps|
|24||MOTOBUM w/ Ishigaki IsIand Tuna||Y.NAKAMURA / S.NAKAYAMA / H.YOSHIHIRO||Honda||11 Laps|
|25||RS-ITOH & ASIA||M.OKAMURA / T.ISHIZUKA||Kawasaki||12 Laps|
|26||YamashinaKawasaki&BusinessRalliart||T.MIZUSAWA / S.YAMAZAKI / M.MATSUMOTO||Kawasaki||12 Laps|
|27||MOTOBOX KREMER RACING||M.SCHERRER / T.PAAVILAINEN / O.SKACH||Suzuki||13 Laps|
|28||Blue Helmets MSC Kumamoto||K.MORI / T.OHTSUKA||Honda||13 Laps|
|29||YMGN with MCRacing||H.TAKADA / R.KATAHIRA / M.NEKVASIL||BMW||14 Laps|
|30||VITAL SPIRIT SHARK ENERGY||T.SATO / M.OTA||BMW||14 Laps|
|31||TEAM HOOTERS KTM||T.OKUDA / H.TOYODA / T.DAIRAKU||KTM||15 Laps|
|32||TransMapRacing||M.OHISHI / D.KISAMORI / S.KYUHAN||Suzuki||15 Laps|
|33||PLUS ONE MCRT & TOM FLYBOARD||H.IMAZU / K.TAJIMA / M.KODERA||Kawasaki||16 Laps|
|34||TOPS LIFE & Garage KENZ||T.NAMEKATA / K.KUMEDA / K.IMAMURA||Suzuki||16 Laps|
|35||Team Technical College||M.FURUSAWA / I.SHIMIZU / >K.KITAGUCHI||Honda||17 Laps|
|36||TEAM FRONTIER||M.SINJO / B.Perez SANCHEZ / T.KISHIDA||Honda||17 Laps|
|37||TEAM SUGAI RACING JAPAN||Y.SUGAI / T.KAMATANI||Ducati||18 Laps|
|38||HOKKAIDO SABEDER||M.TAKADA / K.WATANABE / E.TOGASHI||Honda||18 Laps|
|39||IWATA RACING FAMILY||K.NISHIMURA / M.SAWAMURA / S.MANABE||Yamaha||20 Laps|
|40||TEAM JP DFR KOREA||T.NAKAZAWA / K.Joon TAE / L.Hoo KYOUNG||Yamaha||20 Laps|
|41||TEAM MASSA-R||M.MOGI / T.OKADA / N.SHIMAKAWA||Yamaha||23 Laps|
|42||FLEMBBO LEADER TEAM||J.PROSENIK / L.DERINE / E.BELLUCCI||Kawasaki||23 Laps|
|43||3601MotorSports+SAMURAI||S.YASUTOMI / N.MURATA / A.||BMW||27 Laps|
|44||-MOTOKIDS ICU NERUGAL KAWAUSO||F.SAKAKIBARA / Y.HIGUCHI / K.YOSHIDA||Yamaha||28 Laps|
|45||Club Bali Racing & Team Hook84||Y.NAKAJIMA / J.MORIMOTO / A.TAI||Kawasaki||33 Laps|
|46||RSG Racing & School Family||S.NISHIYAMA / K.TOHNO / H.MINAKI||Honda||38 Laps|
|47||NANOTOP H.M.F.||S.SUMA / A.IGARASHI / P.CZAJ||Suzuki||40 Laps|
|48||DREAM RT SAKURAI||T.HERFOSS / J.M. OHALLORAN / N.URAMOTO||Honda||47 Laps|
|49||All JAPAN DREAM CENTRAL BL RT||S.SUZUKI / T.NAKAGAKI / T.SEKIGUCHI||Honda||47 Laps|
|50||TEAMJP&TAKE-UP CANADA||T.TAMURA / Y.KIMURA||Suzuki||49 Laps|
|51||Y’s distraction Racing||H.KUNIKAWA / T.KOYAMA / T.YOSHIMICHI||Honda||51 Laps|
Source: Suzuka, Yamaha Racing, HRC, Suzuki Racing, & Kawasaki Racing