Honda TT Legends were forced to pull out of Sunday's Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race on safety grounds after a problem with the rear wheel drive system on the CBR1000RR. The team of John McGuinness, Cameron Donald and Keith Amor had qualified in the top 20 and were hoping for a similar result in the race but Team Manager Neil Tuxworth explained they had no option but to retire.
“We are obviously hugely disappointed not to have finished the race, but the safety of the riders is paramount and therefore we had to make the tough decision to retire. On the positive side, we have learnt a huge amount during our time here. The riders have done an excellent job – probably beyond our expectations. We always knew that this was going to be a difficult race and it has turned out that way, but we leave here with valuable knowledge that can only help us improve for future races.”
McGuinness was given the responsibility to run the first stint of the prestigious race but his stint ended in a rather unusual fashion.
“It was a real honour to start the Suzuka 8-hour and the majority of my first stint went well. The problem with the endurance-specific rear wheel system kicked in with two laps to go and I had to push the bike back from the hairpin – I was definitely huffing and puffing when I got back! We got back out but unfortunately the issue continued so we had to stop. It's disappointing but we gave it our all and we have to be proud of that. The conditions here are incredibly tough. Our next stop for endurance is Le Mans so we just have to focus on that.”
Donald then took over for the second stint and was happy with the pace he was setting although he was sad to discover that would be his only action of the race.
“This was my first experience of racing world endurance and I got just over an hour out there on the bike. I can honestly say that I have never been that hot in my life. I was setting some really good lap times and feeling comfortable so it was a shame we had to pull out early. I've learnt a lot, the team has learnt a lot and we just have to come back stronger in Le Mans.”
Scotsman Amor was on board the bike when the decision was taken to retire and although he was hugely disappointed, he accepted that the team had only one decision to make.
“I'm devastated for everyone in the team. I was really enjoying myself out there and I'm obviously really disappointed that I had to come in, but if it is not safe to continue that's the right decision. Up until that point, the Suzuka experience has been brilliant and I was just starting to get into the race. All we can do is learn from this and improve for Le Mans.”
The FIM World Endurance Championship moves from one prestigious race to another with the 24 Hours of Le Mans next up on the 24th-25th September.