As is often the case with the five round FIM Endurance World Championship, the season is going down to the wire at the Suzuka 8-Hours.
The Japanese showcase offers bumper points for the finale, so with only five points between the leading duo, Kawasaki France and the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), there is still everything to fight for.
The TSR Honda outfit, last year’s world champions, have struggled this year and sits 23 points adrift, but they still stand a chance of the title courtesy of the points system that sees 45 points on offer to the winner this weekend.
The champions are armed with Bridgestone tires at Suzuka, and their Honda Fireblade has been working well all week. They could save their season in dramatic fashion.
With points also on offer for a top five grid slot, the TSR squad will know the importance of taking advantage of being in the Top 10 Shootout this afternoon (Editor’s note, the Top 10 Shootout was cancelled, leaving TSR 7th on the grid).
The season started with TSR winning the Bol D’or in France, by just under a minute from the YART Yamaha. Since then however, a retirement at Le Mans put to rest the Austrian squad’s challenge, but at Suzuka they are once again on the pace.
SERT started the year with a solid top five, while Kawasaki France took their time to find their form in Round 2 at Le Mans. Winning that race by one minute from the #111 Honda.
YART claimed success in Slovakia at Round 3, with SERT and TSR rounding out the podium spots. The #11 Kawasaki France outfit had their misstep in this race, with a retirement and that’s what has given SERT their slender advantage this year.
At the penultimate round in Germany the Kawasaki squad bounced back with a podium behind TSR with SERT in tenth at the flag.
It’s been a strange season where momentum has flowed one way and then another, but make no mistake it’s been competitive all the way and looks set to be once again this weekend.
The race within a race at the finale has traditionally been to determine how the FIM Endurance World Championship will play out. However, just because it’s typically been the undercard to the race at the front won’t mean that it will be any less competitive.
This year should see another dramatic battle that will go down to the final minutes of the season.
Photo: © 2019 Steve English – All Rights Reserved
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