FACTORY YAMAHA NOTCHES UP A MAGNIFICENT WIN
At the end of a hotly contested race, the Yamaha Factory Racing bike masterfully handled by MotoGP riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith along with Japanese rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga won the day at the Suzuka 8 Hours, opening a wonderful new chapter in the history of this iconic event. It is the first time since 2002 that a MotoGP rider has won the race.
Yamaha hadn’t had a win at Suzuka 8 Hours for 19 years, and not a single MotoGP rider had won the race since Daijiro Kato and Colin Edwards topped the podium in 2002. So the Yamaha Factory Racing Team’s victory will well and truly go down in the history of this race.
Riding a near-perfect race on a machine specially prepared for the event, the three factory Yamaha riders – Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith and Katsuyuki Nakasuga – showed great consistency, determination against all odds and exceptional team spirit.
“I feel like I’m flying!” Pol Espargaro exclaimed after the finish. “This team is like one big family, and I’ve made friends. I gave it 200%, and considering it’s the first time we’re taking part in the event, this is a fantastic outcome. I must apologize to the team because I got awarded a stop-and-go penalty for overtaking under the yellow flag, but we made up quickly for lost time. I’m very proud of being part of this first Yamaha win in 19 years!”
“Yes, we managed to exploit all the potential of the bike,” Bradley Smith added, “and the whole team deserves this win. We were under a lot of pressure, but we showed a united front, and my two teammates were really fast!”
Honda, which is on home ground at Suzuka, had to make with second place this year. It was the F.C.C. TSR Honda ridden by Josh Hook, Dominique Aegerter and Kyle Smith that finished second. “It was an incredible race, very tough both physically and mentally,” Hook commented.
There were several falls in the course of this year’s race, with safety cars coming on track no fewer than six times. But the biggest shock was Casey Stoner’s crash on the Musashi RT Harc-Pro during his first stint, just over an hour into the race. The factory Honda was destroyed, and the rider sustained a broken right shoulder blade and left tibia. It was very unfortunate for the MotoGP icon, who was participating in the Suzuka 8 Hours for the first time.
The Suzuki Endurance Racing Team finished in fourth place, maintaining its position as world championship leader. After a long-drawn-out battle with the GMT94 Yamaha bike, Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Etienne Masson held on to fourth place after a steady race.
Crossing the finish line sixth after being in fourth place for the last third of the race, the GMT94 Yamaha was undone by the safety car. Having been obliged to refuel when the last safety car came on track, they rejoined the race behind it, and so dropped two places. But they are now in second place in the world championship standings.
The next event on the calendar is the Oschersleben 8 Hours in Germany, which will take place on 22 August.