HRC takes win, SERT first of season contenders in EWC Suzuka 8 Hours
Whilst there might have been drama and heartbreak behind, it was a dominant win for #33 Team HRC in 43rd Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours with the line-up of Tetsuta Nagashima, Takumi Takahashi and Iker Lecuona taking the chequered flag by over a lap in the third round of the FIM Endurance World Championship.
There has been late drama and a safety car in the final hour of the race after the leading season-contender #7 YART – Yamaha Official Team YZF-M1 got caught up with the #74 Akeno Speed – Yamaha Superstock bike at T13 such that rider Marvin Fritz had to dig the Yamaha out of the air barriers to get it back to the pits.
The late issue for the #7 gifted the championship leading #1 Yoshimura SERT Motul with the two-rider line-up of Gregg Black and Kazuki Watanabe taking maximum series points and third on the overall podium.
Ahead of the Yoshimura SERT bike on the all-Bridgestone shod podium was the #10 Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8H ZX-10R of Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes and Leon Haslam, with a T12 slow lowside for Rea in the fourth hour seeming the only real cause for concern over the 8 hours.
After another late visit to the pits for a Stop and Go penalty for the #7 with Karel Hanika on board, the YART bike still came second of the full season runners – and seventh overall – with Niccolò Canepa the third of the rider line-up.
Next across the line of the full season contenders, the #5 FCC TSR CBR1000RR-R Fireblade with Josh Hook and Mike Di Meglio in action had fought back up the order after its earlier brake master cylinder change to finish in tenth overall.
The #88 Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA was the next of the permanent entries, with Zaqhwan Zaidi, Garry Slim and Helmi Azuman bringing their CBR1000RR-R home eleventh overall.
In fifteenth overall, the full-time #11 Webike SRC Kawasaki France entry was further down the order than they’d have liked, with an early visit to the pits after a drop at Degner 2 from Randy de Puniet and a later lack of fuel in the tank the primary culprits delaying their charge.
Finally, of the permanent entries, for the #37 BMW MOTORRAD WORLD ENDURANCE TEAM it was heartbreak at halftime as the M1000RR ridden by Markus Reiterberger, Illya Mykhalchyk and Jérémy Guarnoni was pushed back to the pits by Mykhalchyk for terminal diagnosis by the squad with the bike unable to retain its engine coolant.