The FCC TSR Honda team prevailed in one the closest finishes in the history of the Suzuka 8 Hour race, beating the Yoshimura Suzuki Racing squad by little over 30 seconds. Third-placed Musashi RT HARC-PRO were just a minute further back after 217 laps of intense racing.
The team of Kousuke Akiyoshi, Shinichi Ito and reigning British Superbike champion Ryuichi Kiyonari led by just over 11 seconds heading the final hour as the race went down to the wire but Yukio Kagayama was unable to close down the CBR1000RR before the chequered flag fell.
Yoshimura teammate Josh Waters wasn't disappointed to miss out on the victory, commenting that he was simply delighted to be a part of the historic event.
“This event is just so huge here it is amazing. The crowd just goes wild and being right on the doorstep of all the Japanese manufacturers is great. I feel so lucky to have been given this opportunity. I can't thank Team Yoshimura Suzuki enough!”
The Australian admitted that the physical challenge was tougher than expected but was thankful for a tough training regime in the build-up to the race.
“The heat was always going to be a big challenge, I spent two full weeks in Japan to test and get used to training in it. Track temperatures at one stage were over 60 degrees (Celsius). All the hard work was definitely worth it!”
With the specialist Japanese teams locking out the podium positions, BMW Motorrad France 99 scored valuable points for fourth to take the championship lead away from the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team who could only manage ninth. British-based Honda TT Legends couldn't add to their points tally as they were forced to retire in the third hour.
BMW Motorrad France 99 have now moved onto 68 points, six ahead of reigning champions SERT while Yamaha Racing France GMT94 Ipone are 16 points further back after finishing seventh today.