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Two things can be said about Spa-Francorchamps. One is that the Belgian track is one of the most iconic race circuits in Europe, and the other is that it is one of the most harrowing race courses anywhere in the world.

It is for the second reason that motorcycles do not race there at the international level, and it is for the first reason that it is a great shame that they do not. Things are about to change, however.

One of our favorite events each year, the Suzuka 8-Hours is perhaps one of the most important races on the motorcycle calendar, as the Japanese brands jockey to prove who is the best on their home turf.

However, the legendary Japanese race is not immune to the global situation relating to the outbreak of the coronavirus, and from that we saw its original July race date moved  to the beginning of November.

Now with new concerns, the endurance race and finale of the FIM Endurance World Championship calendar has been unfortunately canceled altogether.

A couple weeks ago, we talked about the prospects of seeing Ducati Corse going racing in the Endurance World Championship, and if the Ducati Panigale V4 R could make an appearance at the Suzuka 8-Hours.

It might be a while before we see the Italian manufacturer in the FIM EWC series in an official capacity, but the start of the 2019-2020 season is already giving us a glimpse of what we can expect from Ducati.

This is because the Hertrampf Racing Endurance Team from Germany is using the Ducati Panigale V4 R in the endurance series this season.

Take a good look at it – this is the Suzuka 8-Hours race winning endurance bike that Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam took to victory this year.

As with any endurance-spec race bike, this Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR is a very special animal, and one can pore over the photos here looking at all the interesting modifications that go into a Suzuka-winning machine.

For us, our eyes always go towards the quick-change wheels and brakes, but there are interesting items on every corner of the motorcycle.

Eight hours, three teams, one (eventual) winner. This year’s Suzuka 8-Hours had it all, but it also showed again that the differences between Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Honda are such that each has to approach the race in different ways. Yamaha opted for balance, Honda for an advantage in the pits, and Kawasaki on the pace of Jonathan Rea and consistency of Leon Haslam.

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For a brief moment, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team was a five-time winner (in a row, I might add) at the Suzuka 8-Hours endurance race.

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.

Episode 111 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and this one is another special edition from the Suzuka 8-Hours. This means that we see Steve English joined by Jensen Beeler on the mics, as they are our Suzuka specialists.

Of course, the show has to start with a discussion about who actually won this year’s edition of the Suzuka 8-Hours, as the race’s conclusion, and the few hours after the checkered flag, were anything but straight-forward.

Race day at the Suzuka 8-Hours has no shortage of pageantry. The crown jewel in the FIM Endurance World Championship, the Suzuka 8-Hours might be the most important race in all of motorcycling, and it certainly holds that distinction in Japan.

With all that said, this year’s edition was truly a spectacle, as the three factory teams from Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha fought in close-quarters the entire race, giving fans quite the treat.

With a few seconds or less between them for almost the entire eight-hour race, we saw no shortage of passes and strategy, making this a race well-worth watching.

UPDATE: The FIM has reversed the results of the 2019 Suzuka 8-Hours, and declared Kawasaki now the winner of the race.

In what will surely go down in history as the most frantic and confusing conclusion to the Suzuka 8-Hours ever recorded, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team won its fifth straight victory at the iconic Japanese endurance race.

The result, which wasn’t clear until moments before the podium ceremony, sees the Red Bull Honda team on the second step, followed by the F.C.C. TSR Honda squad, which also finished second in the FIM EWC standings.

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.

Why is the Suzuka 8-Hours dominated by Bridgestone tires? During last year’s edition, Michael Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli sat down with Asphalt & Rubber to explain why Bridgestone is the preferred tire of choice at Suzuka. Even the most talkative factory riders get tight lipped when the topic of tires is raised. After taking nine tenths of a second off the unofficial lap record, Jonathan Rea was asked to compare the feeling with Bridgestone tires compared to the Pirelli rubber used in WorldSBK. The triple world champion side-stepped that landmine with customary ease by saying “they're both very high performance tires.”

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