Kevin Schwantz and Team Kagayama ran a great race to finish on the podium in third.
Takumi Takahashi, Leon Haslam, and Michael Van Der Mark of the Musashi RT Harc-Pro team ran a well-managed race to end up on top of the box for this year’s running of the Suzuka 8 Hours. The Honda team finished with a lead of 1’52 over Yoshimura Suzuki’s Takuya Tsduda, Nobuatsu Aoki, and Josh Brookes.
Rounding out the podium in third was Team Kagayama’s Yukio Kagayama, Noriyuiki Haga, and Kevin Schwantz.
“It’s been an honor to ride again here with these talented guys,” Schwantz said. “I was lucky to be with an excellent team. The Suzuki was perfect and our Dunlops helped us to stay the distance. I did my best to be fast without making a mistake.”
Following just shy of Team Kagayama by two seconds was the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT)of Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Julien Da Costa. Although disappointed with missing the podium, SERT moves into the lead of the FIM Endurance World Championship.
Two laps behind the leader in fifth place was the Yamaha France GMT 94 team. Behind them, the battle for sixth was won by Honda Team Asia with Honda of Toho Racing having to settle for seventh.
The Yamaha YART team was unable to take advantage of their pole position and although they were in the hunt with the lead pack they suffered a minor leak in the engine seal forcing them into the pits for repairs. They rejoined the race around the half-way mark in eleventh and ultimately finished in eighth.
Honda Kumamoto Racing and Team R2CL completed the top 10, finishing in ninth and tenth respectively.
The FCC TSR Honda team of Jonathon Rea and Ryuichi Kiyonari was the first of the top teams to drop out of the race. Damage to the bike after Kiyonari crashed out of the lead around the three-hour mark of the race forced them to retire.
Another Suzuka 8 Hours casualty was the BMW Motorrad France team of Jason Pridmore and Erwan Nigon. The team’s bad luck continued as both riders crashed in the race, the second of which, Pridmore’s crash, took them out of the race. Their third team member, Damien Cudlin had to retire earlier in the weekend after breaking his leg in a practice crash.