Alex Lowes and the Factory Yamaha team have taken victory in today’s Suzuka Eight-Hours with the World Superbike star entrusted with the final stint to bring the R1 over the line for the team’s second successive win at the iconic endurance race.
Yamaha kicked off the race with Kats Nakasuga in the hot seat and he had an early scrap with Team Kagayama’s Ryuichi Kiyonari but soon took charge and the squad were never headed again to take a one-lap win over Kawasaki with Yoshimura Suzuki in third.
The battle for second raged throughout the full race but the turning point came when Leon Haslam - Kawasaki’s fastest man - was pitted against Yoshimura Suzuki’s slowest man - Noriyuki Haga - andafter a 10 lap battle in and out of traffic, Haslam was able to pass and gap the legendary Japanese.
There was drama in the last stint as Haslam took the final hour and he was being chased by the Yoshimura Suzuki of Josh Brookes. Haslam had to worry about fuel management on the big ZX-10R and Brookes was able to close the gap with 40 minutes left.
However, Haslam wound the wick back up and kept his lead to 17s. With half an hour to go, Brookes was lapping a second quicker than Haslam and almost three seconds quicker than leader Lowes but Haslam was able to drop back into the 2’10s laps while Brookes stayed in the 2’11s.
With ten minutes left, Haslam again knocked off his pace to a 2’12.768 while Brookes remained in the 2’11s as the gap dropped to 12s. However, Haslam was able to balance lap time with fuel management and took second place with a ten-second gap over Brookes. But the Derby man ran out of fuel on the slowing down lap, so the fuel economy was almost perfect.
Broc Parkes brought the YART Yamaha team home in fourth place with Josh Waters’ Moto Map Suzuki squad in fifth. Yukio Kagayama recovered from a punctured front tyre early doors to fight his way back to sixth place.
Nicky Hayden and the MuSHASi Honda team completed 74 laps before their Honda Fireblade cried enough, forcing the former MotoGP star to retire from his second Eight-Hours but he lasted 73 laps more than the last time he raced in the event.
1 Yamaha Factory Racing 218 laps
2 Team Green Kawasaki + 2’17.883
3 Yoshimura Suzuki 1 lap
4 YART Yamaha 4 laps
5 Moto Map Suzuki 4 laps
6 Team Kagayama 5 laps
7 Trick Star 5 laps
8 SatuHati Honda 6 laps
9 Mistresa with ATS 6 laps
10 au&Teluru 6 laps