Suzuka 8H: Race Notes
Hour 8 - Race Result
The Suzuka 8 Hours round of the FIM World Endurance Championship has been won by four laps by the No.7 Seven Stars Honda of Kiyonari and Ukawa, with the No.11 Seven Stars Honda of Vermeulen and Fujiwara in second place and the HARC Pro Honda of Aoki and Yasuda third.
Suzuki 0123 Castrol (Philippe, Kitagawa) finished seventh, Yamaha Austria (Giabbani, Jerman, Saiger) two laps behind in 9th, Yamaha Phase One (Nowland, Cudlin, Young) 18th, Shell Endurance Academy (Rohtlaan, Hogan, Wylie) 28th, Suzuki No Limits & RT Motor Team (Ruozi, Giachino, Codeluppi) 41st and Aprilia Motociclismo Test Team (Aliverti, Veghini, de Nardi) 43rd.
More information to follow shortly…
Hour 7 - One to Go
Diablo and Bolliger Update: Both Kawasaki permanent teams are out of the race. Diablo's previously reported collapsed wheel apparently happened; "when it punched through the radiator and into the engine." The bike was high-sided at post 8 and could not be recovered. Bolliger's race went from bad to worse when Freddie Moreira crashed; although not seriously injured he has been taken to hospital for a check up.
At the front of the field, although the No.7 Seven Stars Honda is a lap clear of the chasing pack, the No.11 Honda in second place, the No. 73 HARC Pro Honda in third and the No.34 Kenz G'Zox Suzuki have been fighting wheel to wheel.
The inevitable casualty was the Kenz G'Zox bike which crashed with just one and a quarter hours of the race left to run, and while lying in fifth place. The bike was pushed across the track to the entry to pitlane and recovered by the rider and mechanics.
Suzuki Castrol are now up to fifth and Yamaha Austria up to ninth.
Hour 6 - Honda 1-2-3
The No.7 Seven Stars Honda continues to lead, with the No.11 Seven Stars bike now up to third place, behind the HARC Pro Honda. The Kenz G'Zox Suzuki is in fourth place, Team Challenger Yamaha fifth, No.55 FCC TSR Honda sixth and Suzuki 0123 Castrol seventh. The No.778 FCC TSR Honda has now rejoined the race but is down to 30th place.
Yamaha Austria are holding 11th place, Yamaha Phase One are 25th and the Shell Endurance Academy 29th.
Aprilia, in 49th place, are happy with the way the race is going: "This weather is very good for us, very good for our bike. We don't need any extra power, our grip is good, and we don't have to change tyres so often." Their fellow countrymen in the next pit, Suzuki No Limits & RT Motor Team described things as, "Okay, so far." They are in front of Aprilia, in 41st place.
Things are going less well for Kawasaki Diablo, who are out of the race. Rider James Hutchins is reported as walking in after a wheel collapsed. Kawasaki Bolliger are still circulating, in 56th place.
Hour 5 - Suzuki Castrol and Yamaha Austria
Suzuki 0123 Castrol have climbed back into the top ten, taking Yamaha Austria with them. The French Suzuki is currently 8th and second Suzuki, the Austrian Yamaha 10th and second Yamaha. They are fourth and fifth in the SBK class. Further down the field there is a similar battle going on between Yamaha Phase One and Kawasaki Diablo, in 22nd and 23rd positions
The Shell Endurance Academy are currently in 29th place, Suzuki No Limits are 41st, Aprilia are 47th and Bolliger Kawasaki 56th.
The track is still damp, but the rain has stopped and there is a lot less spray being thrown up by the tyres. The No.55 FCC TSR Honda has just returned to the track on slick tyres after a scheduled stop. Other teams are being slightly less 'slick' with their stops; the No.11 Seven Stars Honda had a fuel spillage which resulted in a 45 second stop, and the 778 FCC TSR Honda has just pitted unexpectedly, already dropping from second place to seventh…
Hour 4 - Half Distance
The heavy rain eased off at about 3:00pm, but the No.7 Seven Stars still has a one lap lead over the 778 FCC TSR bike. Moriwaki Honda are third, Yoshimura Suzuki fourth, and the No.11 Honda fifth. Sakurai Honda No.74 crashed while lying in 4th position, with Okada struggling to ride back to the pits across the extremely wet grass and gravel.
Yamaha Austria are up 13th place with Suzuki Castrol chasing them in 16th place. Yamaha Phase One dropped to 34th after Paul Young crashed, but are climbing steadily back through the field and are currently 21st. Diablo Kawasaki are 24th, No Limits 35th, Bolliger 49th and Aprilia 53rd.
Bolliger have just entered pit lane enveloped in a cloud of fire-extinguisher gas, the Yoshimura Suzuki is in the pits having accident damage repaired, and the Moriwaki Honda has crashed; Leon Camier is riding back to the pits…
Hour 3 - Rain!
Rain began to fall shortly after 13:30 (and shortly after the last update!), bringing teams in for intermediate tyres. The No.7 Seven Stars Honda stop took just 12.7 seconds, while FCC TSR's stop took 20.2 seconds. Masked Rider Honda crashed at Spoon Curve, but the rider was able to ride the bike back to the pits.
Suzuki Castrol had moved up to 3rd place when the rain started, but Kitagawa crashed at Degner shortly afterwards. He rode the bike back to the pits, and the team rejoined in after reapairning the damage. By this time the rain was very heavy, with thunder drowning out the noise of the bikes and lightningh flashing across the sky.
Shell Endurance Academy's Ben Wylie: "I was out on slicks, and it just started spotting, then the rain came down really heavily. I was going really steadily, but the people I was following were falling off everywhere. It's very slippy, and it's hard work."
Despite that, and apart from Suzuki 0123 Castrol's fall, the permanent championship teams were able to take advantage of the conditions. Within half an hour, Yamaha Austria were up to 15th place and Yamaha Phase One to 24th, just behind Suzuki Castrol. Diablo Kawasaki were 31st, Shell Endurance Academy 42nd, No Limits 45th, Bolliger 50th and Aprilia 53rd.
The two seven stars Hondas - and their Michelin rain tyres - really came in to their own as the rain got heavier, allowing the No.7 bike to stretch out a one lap lead and the No.11 bike to rise up into the top five.
No.7 Seven Stars Honda have opened up a 20 second lead over No.778 FCC TSR, with Masked Rider Honda in third, No.55 FCC TSR fourth, Moriwaki Honda fifth and Suzuki 0123 Castrol sixth. The latter three are together on the track and fighting every corner as if this was a six lap club race.
Yamaha Austria are in 24th place, Yamaha Phase One have worked their way back from 68th to 38th, Diablo Kawasaki are just behind in 40th, and Suzuki No Limits are 50th. Shell Endurance Academy are in 52nd place after pitting with a gear linkage problem, Aprilia Motociclismo are 55th and Bolliger Kawasaki are 56th after pitting for repairs after a minor crash.
The sky is growing increasingly dark and rain - which has been forecast every day but has yet to arrive - may be a distinct possibility soon.
Start and Hour 1
The No.7 Seven Stars Honda led from the start, pulling out a two second lead in the first half of the first lap and showing the form that many have been expecting all weekend. The 778 FCC TSR bike tucked into second place but it was soon passed by the Yoshimura Suzuki, with the Masked Rider Honda in fourth, Moriwaki Honda fifth, YSP Yamaha sixth, Weider Honda seventh and Suzuki 0123 Castrol in eighth place.
Phase One made the start of the race but missed the out lap and so were given a stop-go penalty. Nowland gave a thumbs-up to indicate that the rebuilt bike was okay, then wheelied out of pitlane and back into the race
The leaders bagan to lap backmarkers less than half an hour into the race. Before the first round of pitstops began, the No.7 Seven Stars bike was holding first place with a comfortable lead of over ten seconds. The No.71 Sakurai Honda was one of the first fallers of the race, pushing in despite a pair of badly bent forks.
Seven Stars No.7 has pitted for fuel first, with the Yoshimura Suzuki and Moriwaki Honda coming in a lap later. The Yoshi bike has had to replace a silencer, losing over a dozen places. Significantly, endurance specialists Suzuki 0123 Castrol are one of the last teams from the leading pack to pit of fuel.