Alex & Yamaha Factory Racing Team Finish 2nd in Thrilling 2019 Suzuka 8 Hours
At the 42nd “Coca-Cola” Suzuka 8 Hours, Alex Lowes, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, and Michael van der Mark of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team took the #21 YZF-R1 to 2nd place, securing the fifth consecutive podium finish at Suzuka for Yamaha since the return of the factory team in 2015.
With 2019 marking the 21st year since the YZF-R1 was launched, the Yamaha Factory Racing Team entered the Endurance World Championship (EWC) finale on an R1 sporting a revival of the original Yamaha TECH21 Team livery from 1985. The eight-hour race saw the team engage their rivals in a fierce chase for the win from start to finish, with Nakasuga, Lowes and van der Mark faithfully carrying out their respective stints as planned. As the race approached its final stages and the team running in 3rd, Lowes was handed the TECH21 R1 for the last stint of the day.
The Briton made a pass to take 2nd on the 211th lap, but not long after, the leading bike crashed with just minutes left to the chequered flag. The race was subsequently red-flagged and ended, with the Yamaha Factory Racing Team initially taking the victory on the provisional race results. However, following scrutiny and discussion of the on-track events by officials, the provisional results were later amended with Yamaha taking 2nd place instead. Yamaha Motor requested an explanation of this amendment from FIM Race Direction, and upon hearing the background and reasoning for the judgement made by the FIM, Yamaha Motor accepted the decision.
The YART Yamaha OEWC Team on the #7 YZF-R1 ran a superb race, setting consistent laps among the leading teams for the full eight hours. They finished in the top-five until the amendment to the provisional results put them in 6th. Despite two DNFs among the five rounds of the EWC, their 2nd place finish at the 24 Hour Bol d’Or, a second straight win at the 8 Hours of Slovakia Ring, and this strong performance at Suzuka puts the Austria-based team 4th in the overall standings for the 2018-2019 season.
Yamaha Factory Racing Team
“I love the Suzuka 8 Hours and to get the opportunity to ride with Michael rather than against him is nice, as he’s a tough opponent to beat normally. I always enjoy riding with Nakasuga-san too, as we are friends as well as teammates. So this is always a special race for me and today we all did our best. We pushed right up until the end, we never gave up chasing and it was a lot of fun. Thanks to my teammates, and to everyone in the team, for all the hard work they put in to chasing success here in Suzuka.”