No wiggle room for SERT at Suzuka
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team have every intention of adding yet another FIM EWC title to their already sizeable collection. The team managed by Dominique Méliand, who is set to bow out as SERT boss after Suzuka, will get to Japan only five points behind Team SRC Kawasaki France, and predict a tense and mesmerizing race.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team have built up an illustrious track record of 15 FIM Endurance World Championship wins. One more world title would enable Dominique Méliand, team manager (and creator of SERT in 1980) to pass the baton in style to the new manager, whose nomination is to be announced by Suzuki.
But for now, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team are focusing completely on the Suzuka 8 Hours, the 2018-2019 FIM EWC season finale, with a single aim: closing the 5-point gap separating them from Team SRC Kawasaki France. The Suzuki squad took over the world standings lead in Slovakia, but their two crashes at the 8 Hours of Oschersleben of Germany once again threw the championship wide open, with three teams now in a position to lift the title. Team SRC Kawasaki France are currently in the lead, ahead of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and reigning champions F.C.C. TSR Honda France.
Dominique Méliand reveals Suzuki Endurance Racing Team’s strategy for the Japan race. “It won’t be easy!” he says. “It’s tough to make any predictions about Suzuka because of the weather conditions, and because the Japanese are out to win a race, not the championship. Kawasaki have it easy as standings leader; they just need to stick behind us to pick up the title. So maxing out the throttle is our only possible option. If we hadn’t had two crashes at Oschersleben, we’d have got to Suzuka as standings leader. But we and Kawasaki SRC are both up against another problem, and that’s the strategy of the Honda #1. They’ve got nothing to lose, and they’ll be going all out to score a podium finish. The race will be an interesting watch from the outside but stressful from the inside, and of course the points inflation format could shake up the standings.”
More info about the points-scoring system here.
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team will be taking part in the official tests at Suzuka from 9 to 11 July to prepare for the 28 July finale on the Japanese circuit. Team SRC Kawasaki France on the other hand will make do with the supplementary round of tests the week of the race, on Wednesday 24 July.
“Our main objective at the early July tests is firm up our tyre choice and decide whether to go with the British or Japanese spec proposed by Dunlop,” says Dominique Méliand. “We’ve alternated the two in previous races. The two specs are totally different in terms of compound and structure. The tyre developed in Japan isn’t necessarily suited to our bike settings, so we’ll make our choice based on our riders’ feeling.”
Suzuki Endurance Racing Team finished 4th at their first-ever Suzuka 8 Hours in 1980 and 2nd in 1981 before claiming the win in 1983. “The team have missed only two editions of the race since 1980,” says Dominique Méliand.