Yamaha Factory Racing Team Writes History with Third Consecutive Suzuka Victory
The Yamaha Factory Racing Team wrote an incredible page in the endurance racing history books today, taking their third consecutive win at the 2017 Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours. The GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team was also celebrating, having secured the 2016-2017 FIM Endurance World Championship title after a strategic race performance. The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team pushed to the teams maximum potential to finish in fifth at the line and secure third in the World Championship.
Lead rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga was initially swallowed by the lead pack into turn one as the race got underway, but quickly began fighting his way back to the front to sit just behind the #634 bike going into the second lap. Never more than 0.1 or 0.2 seconds behind, the hunt ran on until lap 16 when the local hero took the lead briefly before hitting heavy traffic with backmarkers and some light rain on parts of the track.
The first hour was soon up and Nakasuga returned to the pits to hand the YZF-R1 over to teammate Alex Lowes. The young British rider was quick to get up to pace and was soon leading a highly competitive pack by a little over a second. Hard work saw that build to nearly four seconds before it was time to hand over to the teams third rider, Michael van der Mark. The Dutchman put his head down and was working hard to maintain the lead built by Lowes when disaster struck for the chasing #634 bike, giving the Yamaha Factory Racing Team a big time gap at the front.
From then on, the trio were never troubled by the competition, keeping up their dominant weekend-long pace and building up to a lap clear of the rest of the pack by the end of the race. Lowes took the honour of the last hours ride, slightly calmer than his previous stint that saw him break the race record not once, but twice. First smashing the standing 207.943 with a 207.402, then later delivering an unbelievable 206.932 lap.
The factory YZF-R1 crossed the line in 1st to the delight of the thousands of Japanese race fans present, writing a historic page in the endurance racing book with the second ever consecutive triple race win by one team in the history of the race. Nakasuga added to the honours by becoming the first Japanese rider to ever win the Suzuka 8 Hours three times in a row.
Yamaha Factory Racing Team – 1st
“Im really happy to win the Suzuka 8 Hours again, its a fantastic event. I was a little bit nervous in the last hour; because these two guys did a fantastic job, we had a little bit of a lead which makes you a little bit more nervous because its easy to lose your concentration. The Yamaha Factory Racing Team did a fantastic job, I really enjoyed the bike, I enjoyed the experience again and Im looking forward to coming back next year to do it again!”