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Yoshimura #suzuki Motul #racing heroically fought back from 67th to seventh in today’s Suzuka 8 Hours World #endurance Championship final round in Japan after a crash in the opening minutes cost the GSX-R1000-mounted team a potential victory. Defending World Champions, SERT, also suffered a similar setback, but after a characteristic hard-fought return through the field, secured second place in the EWC standings.
At the start of this morning’s 40th Anniversary Coca-Cola event, Team KAGAYAMA’s # 71 Hafizh Syahrin took fourth ahead of Yoshimura #suzuki Motul’s # 12 Tsuda, who was 11th on his first lap. Tsuda tried to catch-up but toppled at the hairpin on the second lap and immediately restarted, but he returned to the pit for machine repair, which put the team at the back of the field; and with an immense amount of work to do.
Rain started to fall after 10 laps, and an hour after the start, a crash at the chicane caused the first safety-car to come out. At this point, Team KAGAYAMA was fifth, MotoMapSUPPLY FutureAccess in sixth and SERT 24th before slipping-off in the changing conditions.
At the half-way stage, Team KAGAYAMA were sixth, MotoMapSUPPLY FutureAccess 10th and SERT 26th; as Yoshimura #suzuki Motul moved back through the field into 19th place.
YOSHIMURA #suzuki MOTUL RACING
“I missed the start and was left behind but I tried to catch-up in too-much hurry, and collided with other machine and fell, which I regret. But I am thankful to my team and the other riders for doing their best to finish seventh after being in last place. This race made me think that I have to get stronger, and there’s still room for me to grow as a #racing rider.”
“It was a first time at the Suzuka 8 Hours, so we had great experience and relationship with the Yoshimura team. All the experience was great. In the #racing, unfortunately, we crashed really early on and we lost five laps, then it was a big, big fight, and we managed to come back four laps. It was a big push by everybody - Takuya, Josh and myself – but obviously, we are disappointed. But there were some positives, the new 2017 #suzuki GSX-R1000 was working very well. You know that is #racing, sometimes this happens. We were pushing really hard. I want to thank the Yoshimura team for this experience and I hope we can do it again soon and win it.”
“I think it is a bit sad that we had a fall but there was a lot of pressure with this race. And I understand, you know, it’s easy to make mistakes with so much responsibility. So, I am not angry or upset with Takuya, but upset for the situation. Anyway, we went from the back all the way to seventh, so this is a good education for all the spectators and #suzuki fans to see the potential of the team and bike is still strong. I am sure we did not get the race and the position we wanted, but if you look at the position we came back to, it is really strong. So for this, I am happy.”
SUZUKI #endurance #racing TEAM
“A difficult season, we did make some mistakes and we did not have enough performance on the track, a crash happened, but next year, I think we will do better.”
“We wanted better, but we had some difficulty to be very fast after the crash. The team has done a very good job. Pit stops were very fast and for sure for next year will be better for us with new GSX-R1000. We didn’t do so bad and we did still take the second place in the championship.”
“I feel sorry for the crash. I was trying not to be in a hurry but when we were only one-lap behind GMT, I think I was becoming in a hurry. I was not pushing too hard, managing to keep the same lap-time as in qualifying with 70-to-80%. But I lost the front tyre; my mistake."
“I made a big change to the setup with this morning's warm-up run, and it was great. I went in a good direction and I was able to run comfortably in the final. This race in Japan is always the best and I really enjoyed it.”
“During the first test in July I did not see the overall setup and finished the machine in a limited time. And in this morning's warm-up run I found the final setup! Thanks to everyone who did not give up and I am thankful to all the staff.”
“It was a hard time to finish the machine in a short time from the July test and race week. We gradually became visible through the weekend, but we warmed-up this morning and we found the ideal setting. Out team staff also did the perfect job. I really appreciate it. And Josh did a great run. He lead the team. I would like to express my gratitude.”
“We are trying to be in the position where if there was trouble for the top teams, we could aim for the podium. But, unfortunately, trouble with the headlight came up on us and we dropped the positions. Our plan was to let Hafizh ride for the first phase of the race, then pass the bike to me to increase the pace, when other team riders became tired. But I was trying too hard and I became dehydrated in my second stint. Hafizh saw me wobbling after the ride and suggested I let him ride. Although I am not happy about the final result, my other purpose of inviting youth riders from overseas to let them feel how enjoyable the Suzuka 8 Hours is fulfilled. I guess Hafizh felt that. I feel sorry for not being able to give back to our sponsors. But I will return with good results, so please continue supporting us. Thank you very much!”
“We made a good race, but we had a problem with the electronics with the light not working and also a traction control issue. It was an unlucky problem. We needed to stop for five-to-10 minutes, so we lost 11 positions. If we did not have any problem, I am sure we could have finished in the top five. Thank you so much to the team being very supportive and trying to improve my riding on this bike and helping me to get a good lap time.”
“In qualifying, I was able to make good lap-times which made me feel confident.
But, in the race, I could not find the pace, especially in my second stint. I felt useless, but I will try harder to become a good racer.”
S-PULSE DREAM RACING·IAI
“I was hit in the rear on the second lap hairpin. In addition, I was hit from the side by another machine, so I had to run the first stint with almost no seat cowl. It was a difficult race from the beginning. Even so, we kept running without giving up.”
“I was able to run fine at the first stint, but my allergies in the way and it became difficult in terms of my condition. This is a wonderful team, I was able to race on the machine and it was a fun race week. I am grateful to all the staff.”
“The race was really fun, but the result was not what we wanted. I think it was possible to be in top-five. But when the other bike hit us, it did incredible damage to the bike. But the team were really good. The pit stops were really fast, and mechanics were really good. I am sure it is a little disappointing with the result, but it is nice to be able to finish for sure. And it is positive we are going to improve more. It was really fun to join this team. It was my first time in a Japanese team. Honestly, it’s been one of the most fun ra#ces I’ve done.”
And there were 128,000 spectators at the 2016-2017 FIM EWC grand finale: a figure reminiscent of the golden years of Japan’s most famous race.
Words: Shigeto Kawakami
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