News 29 Jul 2013

Musashi RT Harc-Pro secure Honda’s fourth consecutive Suzuka 8 Hour

Takuma Takahashi, Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark win the iconic WEC event.

Takuma Takahashi, Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark on the top step of the podium.

Takuma Takahashi, Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark on the top step of the podium.

Honda has secured its fourth consecutive Suzuka 8 Hour victory, with the three-rider Musashi RT Harc-Pro outfit of Takuma Takahashi, Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark riding to a comfortable 1m51.966 win in the 36th running of the iconic FIM World Endurance Championship (WEC) event.

The Monster Energy Yamaha Austria (YART) trio of Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Aussies Broc Parkes and Josh Waters started from pole, with Nakasuga beating his own 2012 lap record mark to set the regular WEC entry in good stead for the race.

The starting phase of the endurance challenge was particularly eventful, with early leader FCC TSR Honda rider Ryuichi Kiyonari crashing out of contention after leading well into the two-hour mark.

Musashi RT Harc-Pro took over the helm, and by half-race distance had built a buffer of over a minute.

Behind them a number of the top WEC teams were struggling, with the YART entry slowed by a minor engine leak which required costly time in the pits for repairs.

They would continue, but other teams, including the BMW Motorrad France Team Thevent, could not, with a series of crashes ruling them out despite battling for the lead early.

Team Kagayama set about their goals quietly and by mid-race distance had moved into third as their more-favoured rivals fell away.

Though a late rain shower would threaten proceedings, the top three results would ultimately remain unchanged, with Musashi RT Harc-Pro completing 214 laps en route to victory, ahead of Yoshimura Suzuki, who finished on the lead lap.

Team Kagayama’s Yukio Kagayama, Kevin Schwantz and Nori Haga rounded out the 2013 podium placings, a popular result given their incredible racing history.

Musashi RT Harc-Pro’s Michael van der Mark, who is a regular campaigner of Honda’s factory World Supersport entries, was elated to share in the victory.

“Winning the Suzuka 8 Hours is an indescribable feeling,” said van der Mark. “It’s one of the finest races in the world.

“It was my first experience at Suzuka and I learned very fast. When I saw Kiyonari crash, we upped the pressure to bring home a win. It’s fabulous to see all these guys on the podium.”

Haslam, teammate to van der Mark in Honda’s World Superbike effort, admitted he felt incredibly nervous as he sat as a spectator in the closing stages.

“The hardest thing was to watch Takumi hold on to our first position in the rain over the last half hour of the race,” said Haslam.

Fourth place went to the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT), with Yamaha France GMT94 Michelin Yamalube rounding out the top five.

Of the six Aussies contesting the race, Brookes was the best placed for Yoshimura Suzuki in second, with Parkes and Waters finishing eighth for YART.

Jamie Stauffer and Josh Hook were classified 48th for the Honda Dream RT Sakurai Honda team, while Levi Day’s Over Racing team was not-classified after a lengthy stint to repair crash damage.

FIM World Endurance Championship
Round two, Suzuka 8 Hour

Overall results:
1. Musashi RT Harc-Pro
2. Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team
3. Team Kagayama
4. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team
5. Yamaha France GMT94 Michelin Yamalube
6. Honda Team Asia
7. Toho Racing with Moriwaki
8. Monster Energy YART
9. Honda Kumamoto Racing
10. Team R2CL

Championship standings (after two of four rounds):
1. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team 49
2. Monster Energy YART 46
3. Yamaha France GMT94 Michelin Yamalube 42
4. SRC Kawasaki 40
5. Musashi RT Harc-Pro 35
6. Team R2CL 32
7. Yoshimura Suzuki Racing Team 29
8. Team Kagayama 25
9. Bolliger Team Switzerland 23
10. National Motos 19