Bedlam at 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour | Kawasaki the winners

Suzuka 8 Hour race report by Trevor Hedge

Images by David Reygondeau

One of the most eagerly anticipated Suzuka 8 Hour races in recent history got underway at 1230 (AEST) under hazy skies and on a hot and dry track. These conditions were in stark contrast to the torrential downpours that forced organisers to cancel the Top Ten final qualifying shootout on Saturday afternoon.

Yamaha Factory Racing Team started from pole in their quest for a fifth successive victory on the hallowed Suzuka ground, that is actually owned by Honda.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Start
2019 Suzuka 8 Hour start

Japanese hot-shot Katsuyuki Nakasuga (2m05.922) was the quickest of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team trio, but team-mates Alex Lowes (2m06.629s) and Michael Van der Mark (2m07.306s), had also displayed good enough speed for the team to claim pole position, their combined time only 0.014s ahead of the second placed Kawasaki triumvirate.

The very much in-form trio of Kawasaki World Superbike riders had been led by Jonathan Rea, the fastest qualifier for the team on 2m06.495s, alongside Leon Haslam (2m06.706s), and Turk Toprak Razgatlioglu (2m06.698s).

Red Bull Honda had qualified third but Takumi Takahashi (2m06.200s) had actually been the second fastest qualifier overall behind Nakasuga. Takahashi’s team-mates Ryuichi Kiyonari (2m07.955s), and Stefan Bradl (2m07.106s), loaned their weight to the team effort that saw them qualify third.

MuSashi RT Harc-Pro had qualified fourth but were forced to start from pit-lane, after a 90-second penalty, due to a tyre rule infringement.

Yoshimura qualified fifth, led by Yukio Kagayama, then it was the Yamaha Austria Racing Team led by Broc Parkes and defending World Endurance Champions F.C.C. TSR Honda France led by Josh Hook.  The top nine qualifiers all on Bridgestone rubber.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Start GB
Riders make the mad dash to their machines in the start of the 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

They are away!

Taree youngster Josh Hook quickly worked his way through to the front of the pack as Sylvain Guintoli and Bradley Ray gave chase, while Leon Haslam made short work of Ray to move up to third place.

Katsuyuki Nakasuga, the fastest man here during practice and qualifying, then pushed Ray further back to fifth. Takumi Takahashi was in sixth place for Red Bull Honda in these early laps of the race ahead of Niccolo Canepa, Ryosuke Iwato and Yuki Takahashi.

Sylvain Guintoli swept through to the lead on lap three but Hooky came right back at the 37-year-old French MotoGP tester.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Nigon GB
The 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour kicks into action!

Yonny Hernandez then threw the Honda Endurance Racing Team Fireblade down the road but eventually managed to re-mount.

Ten minutes into the race it was Guintoli from Hook, but the Aussie youngster was starting to come under sustained attack from Nakasuga, Haslam and Takahashi, the latter of which had just put in a new fastest lap of the race.

Josh Waters had started the race for MotoMap Suzuki but 13-minutes into the race the Mildura based three-time Aussie Superbike Champion went down. He eventually made it back to the pits and continued the race.

Guintoli managed to pull away from Hook and 16-minutes into the race the Suzuki man had a two-second buffer. Hook was holding down second place but had a number of high-profile riders all over his tail.  Haslam briefly moved past Nakasuga to move up to third place, but the star Yamaha rider quickly reasserted his place in the pecking order. In reality though, nothing separated Hook from Haslam, Nakasuga and Takumi Takahashi as the race approached the 20-minute mark.

Niccolo Canepa had started the race for YART Yamaha and was running in sixth place ahead of Bradley Ray and Ryosuke Iwato. Yuki Takahashi had started the race for the KYB Moriwaki Honda he shares with Troy Herfoss and Tomoyoshi Koyama.

Safety Car!

Hook and his trio of fellow travellers then started closing on Guintoli only for the first safety car incident to unfold at the 26-minute mark. As per all World Endurance rounds there are actually two safety cars that join at different parts at the circuit, and importantly SRC Kawasaki France, the leaders in the World Endurance Championship, were behind the second of the safety cars, in 13th place.

Just as it seemed as though the safety car might have done Hook and F.C.C. TSR Honda a favour, Hook got mixed up in traffic at the re-start. He then did a brilliant job to quickly force his way back up to third place behind Nakasuga, while Guintoli again was off like a rocket. The Frenchman seemingly able to switch to full speed like a light switch, catching the others on the hop.

The re-start signalled disaster for the 333 VRD Igol Pierret Expériences squad when Xavier Simeon went down at Spoon Curve.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour VRD Igol Pierret Experiences
333 VRD Igol Pierret Expériences – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Leon Haslam pushed Hook back to fourth place as the race approached the 45-minute mark but it was again that same group of five riders running in relatively close formation at the front of the field. Guintoli from Haslam, Nakasuga, Hook and Takahashi.

Hooky was mixing it up well and racing with with some very well proven talent and was showing the way for Honda, as some of the other well supported Honda teams and riders tripped themselves up, the 26-year-old was looking fast and solid. The strength of his performance, in front of all Honda’s top management from across the corporate and racing spectrum, should raise his stakes somewhat in the Honda hierarchy of current racers.

Just over an hour into the race Nakasuga made his move past Guintoli. The leaders then started to encounter lots of lapped traffic, it was the Japanese hotshot that sliced and diced them like a Teppenyaki chef to stretch away from his pursuers. It also started to seem that a couple of that leading quintet had backed off a little, presumably for fuel preservation purposes, playing the long game…

Or was it the ones with the real speed up their sleeve had just pulled the pin to end their session in a fast fashion and hand over the best possible position to their next team-mate in-line….

First Pit Stop!

The first two of the leading five to pit were Josh Hook and Sylvain Guintoli. Taking the controls of the F.C.C. TSR Honda from Hook at the 67-minute mark was Mike Di Meglio, while Kazuki Watanabe clambered aboard the Yoshimura Suzuki. Interviewed after getting off the bike, Hook explained that he had some front end chattering issues late in his stint, and that he had to save a few front-end loses.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour FCC TSR Honda France
F.C.C. TSR Honda France – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Race leader Katsuyuki Nakasuga came in on the next lap and handed over the Yamaha Factory Racing Team YZF-R1M to Alex Lowes.  Inheriting the race lead when Nakasuga pitted was Takumi Takahashi on the Red Bull Honda, ahead of Leon Haslam.

Haslam was the next of that early leading group to come in but amazingly the Red Bull Honda was able to stay out for yet another lap. Haslam handed over to Jonathan Rea while Takahashi eventually handed over to Stefan Bradl.

As they settled back into the swing of things after the pit stops, and the new order started to shake out, it was Stefan Bradl leading by two-seconds over Alex Lowes.

F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s Mike Di Meglio was five-seconds behind the race leader, but ahead of Jonathan Rea and Kazuki Watanabe.

Once Alex Lowes got up to speed though he quickly reeled in Stefan Bradl, and was right on the tail of the Red Bull Honda in no time, before then backing off his pace, seemingly content to follow and conserve both fuel and tyres, but knowing that he can turn the speed on at any given moment to sprint to the front.

Jonathan Rea then slotted the Kawasaki Racing Team past Di Meglio on the F.C.C. TSR Honda to move up to third place. The World Superbike Champion quickly pulled away from the 31-year-old Frenchman.

YART had fared well from the pit-stop with Niccolo Canepa handing over to Marvin Fritz and the team ranked a strong sixth as the race approached the 90-minute mark.

Bradl and Lowes hit a lot of lapped traffic around 15-minutes later, Lowes threaded the needle better and took the lead from Lowes.

At the 1hr50-min mark Team SRC Kawasaki, the World Endurance Championship leaders, made their second pit stop and David Checa took the controls with the team down in 19th place.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Team SCR Kawasaki France Guarnoni GB
Team SRC Kawasaki France – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

It was more than 20-minutes later when race leader Alex Lowes handed over the reins of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team YZF-R1M to his Pata Yamaha World Superbike team-mate Michael Van der Mark.

Freddy Foray took the controls of the F.C.C. TSR Honda from Mike Di Meglio with the team still ranked in fourth place.

Red Bull Honda came in a couple of laps later and Bradl did not hand over to Ryuichi Kiyonari, the third member of the team, and the slowest qualifier amongst the team, but instead Takumi Takahashi went out for his second stint.

Troy Herfoss took the controls of the KYB Moriwaki Honda with the team in ninth place while Broc Parkes was also now out for his first stint with the YART Yamaha in sixth place. Herfoss managed to improve the standing of the KYB Moriwaki squad up to eighth place during his session.

With the situation shaking out after that second round of pit stops, and almost 2.5-hours into the race, Red Bull Honda were looking very strong. Leon Haslam had momentarily got ahead of Takumi Takahashi but the Honda man then put in a new fastest lap of the race to propel the Fireblade back into the race lead.

Traffic was causing all sorts of delays for the hard chargers up front. Some passes were harder or softer, depending on the situation at hand, but it also meant that the race pace slowed and varied, with even some of the leading riders forced back into the 2m10s from time to time.

Three Hours Down

At the three-hour mark, Takumi Takahashi still headed the field on the Red Bull Honda. His buffer, with 37-per cent of the race now behind that Fireblade SP2, was more than eight-seconds ahead of the Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10RR beneath Leon Haslam.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Red Bull Honda
Red Bull Honda – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Michael Van der Mark was holding down third place on the Yamaha Factory Racing Team YZF-R1M and was now right behind Haslam.

Freddy Foray had not managed to equal the impressive early pace of Hook and the F.C.C. TSR Honda was now over a minute behind the race leader, and starting to be stalked by Yukio Kagayama on the Yoshimura Suzuki.

Broc Parkes was sixth on the YART Yamaha before coming in just after the three-hour mark and handing over to Niccolo Canepa.

Ten-minutes later Haslam handed the Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10RR back over to Jonathan Rea.  Michael Van der Mark pitted the Yamaha Factory Racing Team YZF-R1M on the same lap and handed over to Katsuyuki Nakagsuga.

A lap later Josh Hook was back out on the F.C.C. TSR Honda and had his head down to try and keep Yoshimura Suzuki at bay.

Nigon throws the SRC Kawasaki down the road!

While Hook was in the pits, Erwan Nigon crashed the World Endurance Championship leading Team SRC Kawasaki ZX-10RR in a mistake that likely would have massive consequences for the outfit.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Team SCR Kawasaki France Nigon GB
Team SRC Kawasaki – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

SRC Kawasaki’s demise put the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team of Gregg Black, Etienne Masson and Vincent Phillipe in the box seat for FIM World Endurance Championship honours.

SERT were running in ninth place, and if they were to remain in that position at the chequered flag the FIM WEC crown would be theirs. Should they falter, and F.C.C. TSR finish well, then Hook and his Honda team-mates would be crowned World Endurance Champions for the second year running….

To confuse things a little further though Nigon had eventually got the SRC Kawasaki up and running again and rejoined the race in 16th place. It won’t be over until it is over!

Bradl back on the leading Red Bull Honda

Just after the 3hr-20mins mark Stefan Bradl was back out on the leading Red Bull Honda. The German had a lot to live up to after what been an absolutely brilliant stint by Takumi Takahashi.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Red Bull Honda
Red Bull Honda – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Jonathan Rea and Katsuyuki Nakasuga were on track together in a battle over second and third place. The pair dropping in 2m-07s laps and fighting each other tooth and nail like it was a sprint race, and doing it while negotiating plenty of lapped traffic. Their respective pit garages would be either biting their nails or not able to watch the monitors… The duo were six-seconds behind Bradl as he got back up to speed after just getting back on the bike, but were more than a full minute ahead of fourth placed Hook.

Rea and Nakasuga continued to lap quicker than Bradl, it was not long before they were all over the back of the Red Bull Honda.

Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki Racing Team into the lead

Jonathan Rea made short work of Stefan Bradl and also got the better of Naksuga. Both riders got ahead of Bradl but it was Rea that managed to make a break after some decisive moves through traffic, combined with a metronomic series of fast laps, that saw the Kawasaki start to pull away at the front of the field. It was a deeply impressive performance by Rea, pin-point accurate, fast, and smooth.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Kawasaki Racing Team Rea GB
Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

2.5 hours to go and things tight at the top

Fortunes ebbed and flowed over the next stints but after more rider swaps, and with 2.5 hours to go, things were still remarkably tight at the top. Jonathan Rea was back in the saddle again after a stint from Haslam, while Stefan Bradl had just climbed back aboard the Red Bull Honda after another brilliant stint from Takumi Takahashi.

Michael Van der Mark was in the hot seat aboard the Yamaha Factory Racing Team YZF-R1M. As the new riders bedded back in to their bikes, tyres and got back up to speed, it was Jonathan Rea leading from Van der Mark by 1.5-seconds, with the Dutchman holding a similar gap over third placed Stefan Bradl.

Freddy Foray was still the highest ranked of the FIM World Endurance regulars with the F.C.C. TSR Honda in fourth place, a lap behind the race leaders, but with an 11-second buffer over the Yoshimura Suzuki of Yukio Kagayama.

MuSashi RT Harc-Pro – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Broc Parkes was on the YART Yamaha and a further 40-seconds behind but with 30-seconds over Javier Fores on the MuSashi RT Hard-Pro Honda. The #634 Honda had been made to start from pit-lane, 90-seconds after the rest of the field due to a tyre infringement earlier in the weekend, but had done a remarkable job to be holding down seventh place.

Six Hours Down!

Jonathan Rea was leading from Michael Van der Mark by three-seconds, with Stefan Bradl now a further six-seconds down in third place.

Freddy Foray was a lap down in fourth place but was still 13-seconds ahead of Yukio Kagayama on the Yoshimura Suzuki. Broc Parkes was still out on the YART Yamaha but further behind in sixth place.

Now time for the sixth pit stop

With just under two hours remaining, some of the leading teams started to pit for their sixth stop. The first of the leaders to pit was Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki, the Northern Irishman again handing the controls of the ZX-10RR to Leon Haslam.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Kawasaki Racing Team Haslam GB
Leon Haslam – Kawasaki Racing Team – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

The third member of the Kawasaki Racing Team, Toprak Razgatlioglu, preferred a much different set-up and seating position to his team-mates. Rather than compromise the settings of the machines, the team chose to concentrate on the more similar requirements of Rea and Haslam, thus Razgatlioglu was left to watch on as his Kawasaki team-mates did a sterling job on the ZX-10RR.

The next of the leaders in to the pits was the Yamaha Factory Racing Team YZF-R1M with Michael Van Der Mark handing over to Katsuyuki Nakasuga.  There was a problem with the fuel cap on the Yamaha that caused a small delay for them during the pit stop.

F.C.C. TSR Honda were in shortly after with Josh Hook back in the saddle for his final stint on the Fireblade.

Stefan Bradl was the last of the top ten to pit, staying out for a lot more laps than most of his competitors.

Ninety minutes to go!

Stefan Bradl came in to hand the race leading Fireblade to Takumi Takahashi with 90-minutes remaining in the race. Was there any remote chance that they could stretch a 90-minute final stint out of that Red Bull Honda….? Or would they need a splash and dash…?

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Red Bull Honda
Red Bull Honda – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

With the whole field now having made their sixth pit-stop, the race order shook itself out again and when all competitors were back up to race speed, Leon Haslam had a significant 11-second lead over Takahashi, while Katsuyuki Nakasuga was a further nine-seconds behind in third place.

Nakasuga was dipping into the 2m07s, when traffic allowed, and looked determined to use his stint to claw back as much ground as possible on the Red Bull Honda and KRT ZX-10RR in front of him.

Josh Hook was in fourth place, a lap down on the leaders, but with a 16-second buffer over Yoshimura Suzuki’s Sylvain Guintoli.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing
Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Takahashi gradually reeled in Leon Haslam. The Kawasaki man was carrying a wrist injury, that was forcing him to ride with a slightly less natural style, which was then bringing on some niggling shoulder discomfort. Without it would he have the speed to match the charging Takahashi? Probably not, but his shoulder pain certainly wouldn’t be helping. It took Takahashi almost half an hour to pull back that 11-seconds, but now Red Bull Honda were back in front with just over sixty minutes to go.

One hour to run!

Once past Leon Haslam, Takumi Takahashi quickly started pulling away from the Kawasaki mounted Briton. Katsuyuki Nakasuga was also closing in on Haslam, the gap was down to seven-seconds before Haslam then pulled into the pits for a tyre change, a full tank of fuel and a new rider in the shape of reining World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Kawasaki Racing Team Haslam GB
Kawasaki Racing Team – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

During his earlier session the Northern Irishman had exhibited stunning speed, superior to that of Haslam, and it was now going to be interesting if Rea could start reeling Takahashi back in.

Just as that battle was shaping up though the Red Bull Honda headed into the pits with just over 45-minutes remaining. Takahashi got a new set of tyres and a tank of fuel but remained on the motorcycle.

Nakasuga had entered the pits at the same time and handed over to Alex Lowes. Now with Rea on the Kawasaki, Takahashi on the Honda and Lowes on the Yamaha, we had three of the fastest qualifying riders all on track, and all with a sniff of victory.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Kawasaki Racing Team
Kawasaki Racing Team – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Jonathan Rea was straight down to business and clocking in 2m06s laps as he chased Takahashi, the gap with 43-minutes remaining was three-seconds.  Lowes was a further 20-seconds back on the Factory Yamaha. All it would take though was a bad run of traffic, or a safety car, and it would be back to nothing between them…

The #10 Kawasaki piloted by Jonathan Rea took the lead with 36-minutes remaining just as Takahashi got well and truly baulked and held up by a lapped rider. It cost the Red Bull Honda man a couple of seconds and allowed Rea to immediately sprint away from the Fireblade.

In an instant it was nearly all over for Rea as a back-marker came down after clipping what looked like an errant muffler on the circuit, his sliding bike missed taking Rea out by inches. That would have been a very cruel blow but with 30-minutes remaining it served as a stark reminder that very little separates triumph from tragedy, and that anything could happen before this race was over.

Team SRC Kawasaki France – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Just as wrote that line, the rain flag came out as minor patches of precipitation started to be detected around the circuit. This being Japan, that could quickly turn into a torrential downpour, or could even rain at one part of the circuit, and be dry at another part of the track…

Defending World Endurance Champions F.C.C. TSR Honda were still ranked fourth overall, with 24-seconds over Yoshimura Suzuki. Their poor start to the season though meant that disasters would have to befall Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, or Team SRC Kawasaki France would need to make another major mistake for the F.C.C. TSR Honda squad to lift the title again.

20 minutes to go!  KRT have it in the bag….

Jonathan Rea had been an absolute dynamo and the seemingly tired Takahashi did not look to have enough fight left in him.  The Yamaha of Nakasuga steadily reeled the Red Bull Honda in and pushed Takahashi back to third place. Meanwhile Jonathan Rea now had a 20-second lead over his pursuers and looked a shoe-in to take Kawasaki’s second ever Suzuka 8 Hour win.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Kawasaki Racing Team
Kawasaki Racing Team – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Once Nakasuga was past a tiring Takahashi he pulled away from his countryman with ease.

With ten minutes remaining Rea led by 21-seconds, and Yamaha Factory Racing had more than 20-seconds over Red Bull Honda.

F.C.C. TSR Honda were still fourth and the leading team amongst the FIM Endurance World Championship regulars.  The rain was holding off, but darkness had fell.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour FCC TSR Honda France
F.C.C. TSR Honda France – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

As they negotiated the now dark circuit the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team GSX-R1000R started billowing smoke, a lot of smoke. Just as SERT looked as though they would claim the World Endurance Championship, their chances had gone up in smoke.

Etienne Masson remained circulating on the track way too long before eventually pulling off onto the grass. Disaster at the final juncture, and despite an early crash in the race Team SRC Kawasaki France were now looking certain to claim the World Endurance crown and F.C.C. TSR Honda would be promoted to second.

Jonathan Rea goes down!

With 90-seconds left in the race Jonathan Rea went down, presumably on the oil spilled from the SERT bike. The red flag then came out, which meant the results would go back a lap, but can you win the Suzuka 8 Hour if you finish it on the ground…?

Yamaha Factory Racing Team – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Would Yamaha take an unlikely victory at the final hurdle?

There was confusion in all the team garages with Kawasaki Racing Team unsure if they had won. Jonathan Rea looked as though he believed he was the winner, but most of his team did not look quite so sure. Likewise, a lot of the personnel in the Yamaha Factory Racing Team had confused looks on their faces…

Yamaha announced as the winners!

There were some delays to the podium presentations as some consternation still reined up and down pit-lane. Yamaha though did not wait too long before they brought a pre-arranged wreath celebrating their fifth victory in succession.

All the commentary, both circuit and television, believed that Yamaha had won the 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour.

But, a lengthy time later….

KRT announced the winners!

After a confused, and somewhat farcical delay to the results, in this 42nd edition of the Suzuka 8 Hour, Kawasaki were once again announced as victorious as Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam piloted the KRT ZX-10RR to victory. The third member of the team, Toprak Razgatlioglu, did not ride at the event but was still part of the winning team. Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam were back at the hotel and after ordering dinner they received a phone call telling them that they had been named as the race winners…

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Rea Haslam GB
Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam celebrate the win

Both Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam already had previous Suzuka 8 Hour victories under their belt, but both men scored their previous wins with Honda, and 2019 marks their first Suzuka victory on a Kawasaki.

This Suzuka 8 Hour win is also the first for Kawasaki since their previously one and only victory 26-years earlier, when Aaron Slight and Scott Russell piloted a ZX-7RR to victory in 1993.

Jonathan Rea

“I cannot believe what is happening really. From being dejected and feeling that everything was out of our hands, I had already gone back to the hotel, said goodbye to all the guys, with lots of tears. I was in the restaurant already, ordering dinner, when my mechanic Uri called me and said, ‘Hey, are you sitting down?’ I thought he was going to ask me to go to another restaurant – but he then told me we had won the 8 Hours. I think common sense prevailed in that one. I have no words because I am really emotional and happy. The strategy was to work on fuel consumption and race consistency and make no mistakes. I feel we executed that quite well although I got quite tired and cramped at the end. But we prepared the best way possible with the limited time we had. I am so proud to be part of the project and what an effort from KRT, KHI, KMJ who prepared for this race in two tests. During the race it is like hell, the hardest race you can ever imagine, but getting a result like this almost makes me want to come back for more. The emotional roller coaster is unreal.”

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour KRT Celebration GB
The Kawasaki Racing Team celebrate the Suzuka 8 Hour win

Leon Haslam

“From everyone being in tears to getting the news sitting in a restaurant that we actually did win it, I have no words to describe how I feel. The Suzuka 8 Hours is always one of the hardest races of the year. The effort we put in to win, from us, the team and Kawasaki means it has been a big roller coaster of emotion. When the oil went down and the situation happened at the end; words cannot describe the lows we had. But when the good news came through, the highs were just as high. In the second half of each stint I really struggled physically but the bike was working well. I am so happy and I want to thank Kawasaki for this opportunity; also the whole team, Toprak and Johnny, and we pushed as hard as we could. It is a shame that we did not get to stand on the top of the podium but the result is in and we have won the Suzuka 8 Hours.”

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour KRT Rea Haslam Toprak
Leon Haslam – Kawasaki Racing Team – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Toprak Razgatlioglu

“Today I am very tired after watching the race for eight hours! But I am very happy for Johnny and Leon because that was an incredible job today. We are all happy and thank you to everyone. For me this was my first time here – and our team won.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team manager

“This race has been outstanding and I think for the public, the fans and everyone it has been the most incredible Suzuka 8 Hours. Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki – the riders and the factories – have been amazing everybody and they all saw a great race. The best point is that we finally got the victory after Johnny made an incredible last riding stint. The strategy we planned was very good so at the end we got the victory.”

Yamaha second

After some of the riders being interviewed as the winners, and Yamaha team management celebrating what they thought had been victory, the trio of Michael Van der Mark, Alex Lowes and Katsuyuki Nakasuga ended up being named as second place finishers.

Red Bull Honda third

A spent Takumi Takahashi climbed the podium for Red Bull Honda alongside Stefan Bradl. The pair shared all riding duties after the third rider in the team, Ryuichi Kiyonari, failed to show competitive pace during practice and qualifying.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour FCC TSR Red Bull Honda
F.C.C. TSR Honda & Red Bull Honda – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

F.C.C. TSR Honda were a brilliant fourth but it was not enough for them to successfully defend their World Endurance crown. Josh Hook the standout performer once again for the squad.

Yoshimura Suzuki placed fifth and MuSashi RT Harc-Pro Honda took sixth ahead of YART.

MuSashi RT Harc-Pro Honda – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Troy Herfoss scored a top ten finish with KYB Moriwaki Honda placing ninth, just behind S-Pulse Dream Suzuki.

Aaron Morris finished 21st with R2CL Suzuki while Josh Waters finished 26th with MotoMap Suzuki.

SRC Kawasaki France World Endurance Champions

SRC Kawasaki France had done enough to lift the World Endurance Championship crown, winning the title over defending champions F.C.C. TSR Honda. Yamaha took the constructors title in the FIM World Endurance Championship.

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Team SRC Podium GB
Team SRC Kawasaki France won the EWC crown – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Jeremy Guarnoni

“It is unbelievable to win the championship and for me it has been the first time that I have done the full season – and we won it. We deserve it because after the Bol d’Or it was a really difficult moment for the team and me – for my head. Of course we are a bit lucky at the end but we deserve it because we made the job in Le Mans and I have two unbelievable team-mates. The team itself and the bike were – all season – really good. This weekend was a bit more difficult but Suzuka is always a strange race. We are really happy.”

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour Team SRC GB
Team SRC Kawasaki France – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Erwan Nigon

“What a race and what a championship also. We had all weather conditions, 24-hour races are hard and early in the 2018/2019 season we had a victory at Le Mans which is always a good sign for the rest of the championship. We pushed a lot all through this year and in the end we won the championship. First time for me and I want to say thanks to the team because they worked a lot all winter to adjust the bike to make good race settings. Many thanks to my partners, my family and my incredible team-mates. We are friends also so it is a really good feeling to win it with them.”

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour SRC Podium GB
Team SRC Kawasaki France – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

David Checa

“I do not know what to say. In my first year with Kawasaki and Gilles’s team I am world champion again. It is like a dream. When you change a team it is not easy, when you change a brand it is not easy, but my team and my team-mates did a really good job. The atmosphere in the team is incredible. We are friends and for me this is the main point. When we talk and share everything for sure you push more. I believed that we could win the championship all year. The Bol d’Or was frustrating because we had a problem two hours from the end but we continued to believe. When you dream, and believe, the dream can come true – and we are world champions. Now I want to win the next Bol d’Or for Kawasaki, my team-mates and my team. We are world champions today but we have to think of the future and that future now is the Bol D’Or.”

FIM EWC Suzuka Hour TEAM SRC KAWASAKI France trophy
Team SRC Kawasaki France – 2019 Suzuka 8 Hour

Pos Team Time Best Lap
1 Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8H  07h55m36.613 2m06.805
2 YAMAHA FACTORY RACING TEAM 07h55m55.333 2m07.290
3 Red Bull Honda 07h56m43.340 2m07.246
4 F.C.C. TSR Honda France 07h57m14.500 2m08.271
5 YOSHIMURA SUZUKI MOTUL RACING 07h57m35.207 2m08.140
6 YART – YAMAHA 07h56m53.579 2m08.414
7 MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda 07h55m34.724 2m08.017
8 S-PULSE DREAM RACING . IAI 07h55m36.392 2m09.208
9 KYB MORIWAKI RACING 07h56m33.701 2m09.586
10 Honda Dream RT SAKURAI HONDA 07h57m21.654 2m09.481
11 Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA 07h57m12.971 2m10.362
12 TEAM SRC KAWASAKI FRANCE 07h5547.250 2m10.475
13 Honda Endurance Racing 07h57m32.889 2m09.550
13 TONE RT SYNCEDGE 4413 07h55m55.642 2m11.542
15 Bolliger Team Switzerland 07h55m58.687 2m11.757
16 Team ERC-BMW Motorrad Endurance 07h56m25.530 2m11.466
17 TEAM FRONTIER 07h57m19.062 2m11.147
18 Zaif NCXX RACING & ZENKOUKAI 07h57m20.322 2m11.386
19 OMEGA MACO RACING 07h56m01.771 2m11.462
20 TK SUZUKI BLUE MAX 07h56m02.573 2m11.372
21 TEAM R2CL SUN CHLORELLA 07h57m13.312 2m13.016
22 TERAMOTO@J-TRIP Racing 07h57m32.045 2m13.616
23 Team Kodama 07h55m40.502 2m12.753
24 Yamashina Kawasaki & AutoRaceUBE with YIC… Kawasaki 07h56m13.063 2m13.843
25 TEAM SUGAI RACING JAPAN 07h55m30.137 2m14.929
26 Moto Map SWAT 07h55m51.407 2m10.923
27 CLUB NEXT & MOTO BUM 07h57m16.123 2m14.102
28 TransMapRacing with ACE CAFE 07h57m34.718 2m15.044
29 HAMAMATSU TEAM TITAN 07h57m13.990 2m16.866
30 RC KOSHIEN YAMAHA Endurance ASEAN 07h57m17.298 2m12.360
31 au . Teluru SAG RT 07h55m39.236 2m08.289
32 ARMY. GIRL Team TJC & MF Kawasaki 07h57m38.515 2m11.914
33 Honda Koyokai DREAM Racing Team 07h55m35.135 2m17.758
34 Zaif NCXX RACING 07h55m41.461 2m13.404
35 TIO Verity 07h56m08.811 2m15.550
36 H.L.O RACING SUZUKIN 07h56m27.731 2m15.056
37 Honda EG Racing 07h56m11.412 2m16.543
38 E P S Racing GarageL8  TT45 07h56m39.610 2m16.382
39 Honda Hamayuukai Hamamatsu Escargot 07h56m03.511 2m13.433
40 HKC & IMT Racing KUNO KOGYO 07h55m58.288 2m16.854
41 MOTOBOX KREMER & Favorite Factory 07h56m10.638 2m14.231
42 Honda Ryokuyoukai Kumamoto Racing 07h56m49.091 2m12.867
43 Team de”LIGHT 07h56m23.243 2m15.121
44 TEAM HANSHIN RIDING SCHOOL 07h21m19.057 2m13.108
45 IWATA RACING FAMILY 07h57m19.958 2m15.857
46 EVA RT WEBIKE TATi TEAM TRICKSTAR 07h57m14.419 2m10.798
47 moto cubic + Motorrad Toyota + NR 07h57m40.780 2m14.566
48 K’s WORKS RACING YSS 07h56m47.472 2m17.764
49 Sinshu activation project . Team NAGANO 07h56m09.735 2m16.184
50 Honda Blue Helmets MSC Kumamoto & Asaka 07h56m28.762 2m17.456
51 MobiusGreen YAOKAWASAKI 07h56m52.974 2m13.865
52 Suzuki Endurance Racing Team 07h54m09.152 2m10.402
53 Honda Suzuka Racing Team 07h54m51.206 2m09.551
54 VRD IGOL PIERRET EXPERIENCES 07h42m10.861 2m09.839
55 Team ATJ with JAPAN POST 07h04m57.166 2m09.944
56 NIPPON SUMATRA BIO MASSE+D REX 07h55m39.900 2m14.970
57 KRP SANYOUKOGYO & will raise RS-ITOH 07h57m18.094 2m09.233
58 PLUS ONE MCRT 06h27m24.887 2m15.895
59 icu RT MOTOKIDS NAC SANYO 07h55m51.756 2m12.678
60 DOG HOUSE 07h27m12.729 2m16.382
61 Team WITH87 Kawasaki PLAZA Fukuokahigas… Kawasaki 07h57m51.318 2m14.586
62 Team BABY FACE Titanium Power Racing 0726m33.576 2m10.399
63 Wójcik Racing Team 04h22m27.285 2m11.248
64 GSM RACING 03h16m20.838 2m13.161

FIM World Endurance Championship Standings


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