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Suzuka 8 Hours RACE | HRC Honda defends trophy as Mackenzie, Linfoot score top five results

Team HRC Honda, Tetsuta Nagashima, Xavi Vierge, Takumi Takahashi, Honda CBR1000RR-R, Suzuka 8 Hours, action [credit - EWC]

Team HRC successfully held onto its Suzuka 8 Hours title as the combination of Tetsuta Nagashima, Takumi Takahashi and WorldSBK rider Xavi Vierge romped clear to dominate the 2023 edition of the endurance classic.

Giving Honda and its Team HRC sporting arm a much needed boost amid its ongoing woes in MotoGP and WorldSBK, the Japanese-Spanish trio took the lead for the first time on lap 12 and were never headed thereafter.

The result marks a prized first Suzuka 8 Hours win for Vierge, the Spaniard emulating his WorldSBK team-mate Iker Lecuona's success 12 months earlier, while his former Moto2 rival Nagashima tastes victory for the second year on the bounce. For Takahashi, however, victory marked a record-equalling fifth Suzuka 8 Hours win.


With Honda dominating in a 1-2-3-4 lockout, there was also some joy for the British contingent, with Tarran Mackenzie contributing to FCC TSR Honda retaking the Endurance World Championship points lead with a gritty ride to fourth, while Dan Linfoot was one of the depleted two rider AutoRace Ube Suzuki line-up that came home fifth.

Team HRC Honda, Tetsuta Nagashima, Xavi Vierge, Takumi Takahashi, Honda CBR1000RR-R, Suzuka 8 Hours, action [credit - EWC]

Honda happy again on home soil

Having seen off the challenge of the official multiple WorldSBK title-winning Kawasaki Racing Team in 2022 - despite their disparate fortunes on the world stage - Team HRC began the Japanese event as clear favourites in the absence of their rivals this time around.

With Nagashima putting the Honda CBR1000RR-R on pole position, though first leg nominee Takahashi slipped to fifth initially, he picked his way up the order to relieve YART's Niccolo Canapa for the lead definitively on lap twelve of the 216 HRC Honda would eventually complete.

From here, the trio were not bothered thereafter, with Vierge keeping it clean on his first visit to Suzuka to complement the metronomic consistency expected from Suzuka specialists Takahashi and Nagashima to move clear.

Staying out of trouble for the full eight hours, despite the onset of rain with just over 90mins remaining, Nagashima was the rider to bring it across the line in front of 42,000 fans to secure a record 29th Suzuka 8 Hours win for Honda.

FCC TSR Honda, Tarran Mackenzie, Alan Techer, Mike di Meglio, Honda CBR1000RR-R, Suzuka 8 Hours, action [credit - EWC]

Tarran Mackenzie fourth on Suzuka 8 Hours debut

While it was a clean run to the factory Honda squad, it was a trickier race for the EWC all-comers with the visitors unable to string an entirely fault-free race together.

After leading initially, YART (Yamaha Austria Racing Team) saw its hopes hampered by technical issues less than two hours into the race. Stopping at the Spoon Curve, though Karel Hanika was able to eventually get the Yamaha R1 back to the pit-lane, the Czech rider - alongside Canapa and Marvin Fritz - could only recover to 23rd, some 13 laps off the lead.

FCC TSR Honda also suffered issues when a sensor problem contributed to a fall for Mike di Meglio in the opening hour. Nevertheless, together with Alan Techer and Mackenzie - the 2021 BSB Champion having been drafted in late on to replace the injured Josh Hook - they got their heads down to climb back to fourth, in so doing extending FCC TSR Honda's EWC lead heading to the Bol d'Or finale at Paul Ricard in September.


Elsewhere, the Suzuki Yoshimura team looked on course for second until Gregg Black crashed coming up to the final hour. Losing eight minutes in the pit-lane for repairs, the 2020 and 2021 EWC champions - also featuring Sylvain Guintoli and Etienne Masson - came home 12th.

Of the remaining EWC regulars, BMW Motorrad WEC scored its first Suzuka 8 Hours finish in seventh, with Kawasaki Webike Trickster in 13th and Honda Vitalis Racing 14th.

AutoRace Ube, Dan Linfoot, Takuya Tsuda, Suzuki GSX-R1000R, Suzuka 8 Hours, action [credit - EWC]

Dan Linfoot pairs up to secure top five

Issues for the international contingent meant it was a podium lockout for the domestic contingent with TOHO Racing coming through for second, while fellow Honda counterparts SDG Racing in third.

Though a lap off its factory HRC counterparts, TOHO Racing's runners-up spot marked a return to the podium for three-time BSB champion Ryuichi Kiyonari, the Superbike veteran joining Takuya Kunimine and Ikuhiro Enokido in securing a landmark result.


In third, SDG Racing made up for last year's disastrous Suzuka 8 Hours that ended just five minutes into the race when Naomichi Uramoto was swiped out by a rival. Twelve months on and he - together with Tappei Nagoe and Haruki Noguchi - reached the eight-hour mark this time, with a podium trophy to boot.

Meanwhile, in addition to Mackenzie's run to fourth, there was also top five delight for British National Superstock leader Linfoot, who put in the extra hours as part of a depleted two-man AutoRace Ube Suzuki line-up with Takuya Tsuda, to bring it home for fifth as the best placed non-Honda team.

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