The Japanese motorcycle manufacturers take the Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race very seriously, and none of the brands make a bigger deal out of the mid-summer event than Honda.
Big Red has won the Suzuka 8-Hours on 27 occasions, out of its 40 runnings, which is an impressive win ratio, but there is one issue: for the last three years in a row, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team has displaced Honda’s supported efforts on the top podium step – a feat no other team has ever achieved.
This is an insult that Honda can apparently no longer tolerate, and this week the Japanese manufacturer announced that at the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours, a factory-backed “Team HRC” squad will compete in this iconic race.
This is a big step for Honda, which so far has remained content to run a proxy war at Suzuka, offering factory-level support to established teams like MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO and F.C.C. TSR Honda – support that includes providing access to HRC-contracted riders in other international series.
But, seeing Yamaha bring a full-fledged factory squad in the recent years, which included riders like Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith, Michael van der Mark, Alex Lowes, and Katsuyuki Nakasuga…Honda is ready to fight fire with fire.
Big Red’s announcement doesn’t tip the full lineup of riders that will compete on the Honda CBR1000RR SP2 at Suzuka, but we can expect a strong selection from Honda. We would imagine that even a ride by Marc Marquez himself isn’t off the table, though it is an unlikely scenario.
Equally of note is that Honda will return with a factory effort to the All Japan Road Race Championship, its first factory team in JRR in the past 10 years.
Riding in the national series will be Takumi Takahashi, who will be looking for victory in the JSB1000 class as well as at Suzuka, presumably being the first rider announced for Team HRC at the endurance race.
Though we still have some time to let this news percolate, the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hours is looking like an intriguing event for next year. Be sure to keep your eye on it.
Source: Honda; Photo: © 2017 Steve English – All Rights Reserved