The fourth round of the Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship will take place on Sunday, the 26 July in Suzuka, Japan. Although the 8 Hours of Suzuka “Coca Cola Zero” are part of the Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship and are eagerly awaited by the local Japanese teams, it is not compulsory for the permanent teams to enter this particular race this season. Only the very best of them can hope to score a few points against very fast local teams who often have official support from the Japanese factories. Last year at Suzuka, the Yamaha Austria Racing Team finished in eleventh place ahead of Folch Endurance, Phase One Endurance and the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team.
We will see once again on the Suzuka starting grid the Yamaha Austria Racing Team, the championship leader, with Igor Jerman, Steve Martin and Gwen Giabbani; BK Maco Moto Racing Team on Yamaha with Jason Pridmore, Dani Ribalta and Victor Carrasco; the Honda RMT 21 Racing Team of Matti Seidel and Olivier Depoorter. Phase One Endurance , announced in Suzuka, will not finally travel to Japan for financial reasons. There will be no Superstock class this year at Suzuka: the Japanese round is not part of the FIM World Cup calendar, dedicated to this class.
In order to score some points and take advantage in the championship against other teams entered for the Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship, these permanent teams will have to battle against fifty-five Japanese teams. Although, due to the world economic crunch, the Japanese factories won’t enter their traditional official teams, the competition will still be very harsh between the semi-official teams, who often have some support from the factories.
Contested on 14 June, the 300 km of Suzuka, also often called “the road to the 8 Hours” gave a foresight of the favourites for victory at the end of July. The Honda FCC TSR of Kosuke Akiyoshi and Shinichi Ito, won the race ahead of Honda Musashi RT Arc Pro of Tatsuya Yamaguchi and Yoshiteru Konishi and the Suzuki Yoshimura of Daisaku Sakai and Kasuki Tokudome. These three teams will be present at Suzuka on 26 July.
The presence of female French rider Magali Langlois will be another curiosity this year at Suzuka. Competing usually in the French Superbike Championship, Magali Langlois will do her first laps this year at Suzuka with the Japanese team Clever Wolf Racing on a Yamaha.