MuSASHI RT HARC-PRO, with riders Leon Haslam, Michael van der Mark and Takumi Takahashi, took the top-step in the 2014 Suzuka 8-Hours World Endurance Race. Yoshimura Suzuki’s Takuya Tsuda, Randy de Puniet and Josh Waters finished in second followed by Team Kagayama & Verity’s Nori Haga, Yukio Kagayama and Dominique Aegerter rounding out the podium.
The start of the event was delayed by heavy rains, and precipitation continued to fall throughout the contest. The tricky conditions led a number of teams to crash during the race, including the Yoshimura Suzuki Legends team comprised of Kevin Schwantz, Nobuatsu Aoki and Satoshi Tsujimoto. Aoki was battling with Tsuda early on but hit the ground hard while attempting a pass on the eventual second-place finisher. The incident ended the Legends team’s bid after just five laps.
Another crash of note happened to FCC TSR’s Kosuke Akiyoshi, who broke his femur in the incident but still returned the CBR1000RR to the pit. Akiyoshi was leading at the time and the team was able to repair the bike for a return, with Jonathan Rea and Lorenzo Zanetti piloting the bike back to 40th before the finish.
At the front, the MuSASHI squad started to ascend the ranks halfway through the race, with Van der Mark slipping ahead of De Puniet for second-place. After Akiyoshi crashed out, MuSASHI took over the lead and built a gap of nearly one minute on the second-place finishers by the checkers.
“Amazing feeling,” said Van der Mark. “I was ready for the third hour but it start raining and team decided to go with Takumi in the rain because he has more experience. The fourth hour was for me and I got faster and faster with a steady pace and rhythm. The bike worked perfect, the team did an amazing job. My last stint was at a really good pace and I could ride quite easily. To be here again in my second year is amazing feeling. We did it all together.”
The Yoshimura Suzuki team had a late-race scare when the GSX-R’s headlight started to fail during nightfall. The light finally switched on, however, and Waters pushed hard to close the gap in the final stages.
Monster Energy Yamaha’s Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Broc Parkes and Josh Brookes finished in fourth, encountering technical issues mid-race which set the team back in the ranks. TOHO Racing with Moriwaki finished in fifth followed by Honda Suzuka Racing Team in sixth. Honda Team Asia took seventh followed by the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team in eighth. Yamaha Racing GMT 94 took ninth followed by Monster Energy Yamaha –YART in 10th.
Yamaha Racing GMT takes the World Endurance Championship points lead followed by the 2014 Round 1, Bol d’Or 24-Hours winners, SRC Kawasaki in second. Team Bollinger Switzerland is third in the standings trailed by MuSASHI in fourth and Team Motors Events April Moto in fifth.
WEC Suzuka 8-Hours Results 2014
1. MuSASHI RT HARC-PRO, 172 laps
2. Yoshimura Suzuki Shell ADVANCE, 172 laps
3. Team KAGAYAMA & Verity, 171 laps
4. Monster Energy Yamaha with YSP, 171 laps
5. TOHO Racing with MOIRWAKI, 170 laps
6. Honda Suzuka Racing Team, 170 laps
7. Honda Team Asia, 169 laps
8. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, 169 laps
9. Yamaha Racing GMT 94 Michelin, 168 laps
10. Monster Energy Yamaha – YART, 168 laps
World Endurance Championship Points 2014
1. Yamaha France GMT 94 Michelin, 62
2. SRC Kawasaki, 55
3. Team Bollinger Switzerland, 45
4. MuSASHI RT HARC-PRO, 35
5. Team Motors Events April Moto, 35
6. National Motos, 32
7. Yoshimura Suzuki Shell ADVANCE, 29
8. Team R2CL, 26
9. Team KAGAYAMA & Verity, 25
10. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, 23