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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > Issue 331 > BRITS ABROAD… SUZUKA STYLE

BRITS ABROAD… SUZUKA STYLE

Torturous temperatures and long stints in the saddle are what makes Suzuka the unique challenge it is, as some of BSB’s finest discovered first hand at this year’s event.
Like a boxing day sale!

Even if you’re not an endurance racing fan, chances are the Suzuka 8 Hour is on your radar. It is the most prestigious long-distance race on the motorcycle racing calendar as the world’s premium manufacturers pull out the big guns in their quest for victory; a battle of physical and mental strength in equal measures that sees riders from across the world’s elite championships, including the likes of MotoGP’s Jack Miller, Dominique Aegerter and Takaaki Nakagami, scrap it out in the most gruelling of conditions for the coveted Suzuka glory. From a manufacturer’s point of view, it’s a big-fry win and it bestows huge bragging rights for Japanese manufacturers in particular, as it’s fought in their backyard. And while there’s an enormous turnout of Japanese talent on the rammed grids, there’s also a huge influx of Brits taking to the event, with this year’s race marking the largest ever pilgrimage of the BSB championship’s finest. So how did they get on and what did they make of it? We went along to observe first hand their pain, pleasure and podiums.

So what happened in the race?

It was a good day (and night) for Yamaha, as the Factory Racing Team became only the second team in history to win three successive Suzuka 8 Hour races, while the GMT94 Yamaha team came away lifting the 2017 FIM Endurance World Title; a real blow to Honda after a troubling year. And what better way to do it than at the 40th anniversary of the legendary race, after an action-packed event that made Formula One look like paint drying. Following a rocketship holeshot from BSB’s Leon Haslam of Team Green, it was a three-way battle with the Yamaha Factory Team and the Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda team for the lead; until Moto2’s (and unconfirmed 2018 MotoGP rider) Takaaki Nakagami lobbed it and ruined Honda’s chance of winning on their brand new Fireblade; ultimately gifting Yamaha the lead that they carried to the bitter end. And the drama didn’t stop there as the fight for the remaining podium spots was nothing short of intense. So ferocious in fact that the FCC TSR Honda, which was looking in good shape for second place, literally went up in flames just under an hour from the end, causing ex-MotoGP rider Randy De Puniet to make a rapid pit stop, gifting grafter Haslam second place while De Puniet recovered to take the final step on the podium.

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