News 21 Jul 2009

EWC: Japanese teams to invade Suzuka 8-Hour this weekend



The 8 Hours of Suzuka “Coca Cola Zero”, the fourth round of the 2009 Qtel FIM Endurance World Championship will start from next Thursday with the free practice on the Japanese track. The qualifying session is scheduled for Friday. On Saturday will take place the “Special Stage”, a Superpole open to two riders of the ten best teams, and this will reallocate the first ten places on the final starting grid. The race will start Sunday at 11:30 AM (GMT + 9) and the race will finish at 7:30 PM, slightly after the sunset at Suzuka.
58 teams are expected to race.

To compete against the best private and semi-official Japanese teams will be a hard challenge for the three permanent teams who will race at Suzuka this year. Championship leader Yamaha Austria Racing Team is one of the most experimented. The Austrian Yamaha team has regularly been in the top 15 since the 2004 8 Hours of Suzuka, except when they took the thirteenth place in 2007 after their bike faced some overheating problems. In eleventh place last year, YART aims to enter the top 10 this year to increase their gap in the championship. In the Yamaha Austria team there are three riders familiar with Suzuka, Igor Jerman, Steve Martin and Gwen Giabbani.

After some uncertainty due to financial reasons, Phase One Endurance will finally be at Suzuka. The British Yamaha team also has a long race history at Suzuka, although they have never been as successful as YART. However, Phase One Endurance has been several times in the top 20 since the 2004 8 Hours of Suzuka. Pedro Vallcaneras, twelfth last year with Folch Endurance, Damian Cudlin, thirteenth last year with Phase One Endurance and British Superbike rider Graeme Gowland will ride the Yamaha Phase One Endurance.

BK Maco Moto Racing Team took seventeenth place last year at Suzuka. With Dani Ribalta, twelfth last year with Folch Endurance, Jason Pridmore and Victor Carrasco, the Slovakian Yamaha team hopes to score great points and make a significant move in the championship. Once announced at Suzuka, RMT 21 Racing won’t be at Suzuka this year after two bikes were destroyed during the practice and the race last month at Albacete.

To achieve their goals, the three permanent teams will have to race against the best Japanese teams, in the likes of the Honda FCC TSR of Kosuke Akiyochi, Shinichi Itoh and Yusuke Teshima, the Suzuki Yoshimura of Daisaku Sakai, Kasuki Tokudome and Nobuatsu Aoki and the Honda Dream Sakurai of Chojun Kameya and Australian rider Josh Brookes.