Yamaha delivers second consecutive Suzuka 8 Hours win as Alex crosses the line to seal victory
The Yamaha Factory Racing Team delivered a lap-perfect performance today to take their second consecutive Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours victory, the first consecutive two-win run for Yamaha since 1988.
Having dominated almost every practice and qualifying session leading up to today, Yamaha Factory Racing were at the front of the traditional endurance running start for today’s Suzuka 8 Hours. As temperatures rose over 30 degrees it proved to be a real endurance event for the team. All Japan JSB1000 Champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga was the starting rider, sprinting to his YZF-R1 to ride the first hour. Swift to his machine, he was third into the first corner, then dropped slightly to start the first full lap in fourth.
As Nakasuga found his feet he was quick to start climbing back to second, tucking in less than two tenths of a second behind rivals Team Kagayama. The 2015 Suzuka winner settled in, keeping the gap to two tenths or less and the pressure high until taking the lead on the last chicane before heading in to lap 18. From there he was untouchable, building a lead until he came in at the end of the hour to hand the bike over to teammate Alex Lowes.
An impressive 17-second pitstop saw the British rider hitting the track in first place and picking up where Nakasuga left off, lapping under the 2’09 mark to stretch the lead even further. By the time he came in to hand the #21 machine over to Pol Espargaró, Lowes had built a lead of almost 20 seconds. The MotoGP rider continued his teammates’ pace, upping the pressure even further to be the only rider on track lapping under the 2’10 mark. By the time Nakasuga had returned to the track an hour later the lead was nearly one and a half minutes and growing.
The team continued to be untouchable on track, delivering a masterclass in team endurance riding to stretch themselves further and further into the lead. Espargaró took one more stint, riding two hours in total and Nakasuga a further one to make three. Come the seventh hour it was the responsibility of Lowes to make the final push, riding into the darkness to seal the team’s second consecutive Suzuka 8 Hours victory in stunning form.
All three riders consistently outperformed the field for the duration of the eight-hour race, rightly earning the cheers from the nearly seventy-thousand fans in attendance as the clocked ticked down to zero. Lowes crossed the line a massive two minutes and 17 seconds clear of second place. Local hero Nakasuga also took the honour of delivering the fastest lap of the race with a stunning 2’08.411 on lap 105.
Alex Lowes – Yamaha Factory Racing Team
“Obviously I’m really very, very happy; this is the first time I’ve won this event. The whole week for me has been fantastic, it’s a totally different experience to my normal racing championship and the atmosphere we have in the team and the relationship we have has been really enjoyable, both on the track and off the track. The feeling you get when you win is fantastic and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve felt that so I’m happy! I want to say a massive thank you to the whole Yamaha Factory Racing Team for inviting me here; all the staff and guys have been fantastic. Pol and Nakasuga-san have been fantastic teammates, they’re really fast which has made the job a lot easier for me so a big thank you to them and hopefully I’ll be back next year!”
Source: Yamaha Racing