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The Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 hours (鈴鹿8時間耐久ロードレース, Suzuka hachi-jikan taikyū rōdo rēsu, Suzuka 8 hours Endurance Road Race) is a motorcycle endurance race held at the Suzuka Circuit in Japan each year. The race runs for eight hours consecutively and entrants are composed of two or more riders who alternate during pitstops.

Suzuka 8 Hours
Suzuka circuit map--2005.svg
VenueSuzuka Circuit
Corporate sponsorCoca-Cola
First race1978
Last race2018
Duration8 hours

Contents

HistoryEdit

The race began in 1978 as a race for prototype Tourist Trophy Formula One (TT-F1) motorcycles which meant the big four Japanese companies (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha), who had unlimited engineering resources, could use them on the track.[1]

Throughout the years, the race had gone through several rule changes in accordance to the FIM, including the restriction to 750cc for F1 bikes.

One major change for the race came in 1993. Due to the high popularity of Superbike racing, which had been a support class in previous 8 Hours races, the race now centered on superbikes. The Formula One class, which at the time was the pinnacle of the race, would be removed altogether. Another category included in the race is the Naked class (for motorcycles without fairings - similar to the streetfighter bikes).

At the event's peak during the 1980s, the race attracted in excess of 130,000 spectators while presently it attracts a crowd around 85,000. The record attendance figure is 160,000 in 1990.[2] The race is part of the FIM Endurance World Championship for motorcycles and with the exception of 2005, due to the high importance the big four Japanese manufacturers place on the race, the governing bodies set a race date that avoids conflict with any of the other major championship races.

Star ridersEdit

A main attraction of the Suzuka 8 hours race is that it normally features star riders from MotoGP and Superbike racing factions from around the world.[1] It is not uncommon for a rider to have the 8 Hours race written into their contracts when they acquire a factory ride in MotoGP or Superbike. If the rider has notable success in their respective class during the season, they will usually negotiate to have the requirement of racing future 8 Hours races removed from their contract. Most high-level riders don't like racing it because it breaks up their mid-season momentum and because it is physically draining.[1] Michael Doohan is an example of one such rider who raced the 8 Hours early in his career but had his contractual obligations to the race removed following his significant success in 500cc (now MotoGP).

On the other hand, high-level Japanese riders return for the race annually as it is regarded by the Japanese as one of the biggest motorsport events on the calendar. As the Suzuka 8 hours is part of the FIM World Endurance Racing Championship, its priority on the international calendar, along with the off-weeks in the FIM calendar, makes this race one of the most crucial on the schedule.

Until the removal of the Laguna Seca round in MotoGP, from 2003 until 2014, race winners had almost been exclusively Japanese, with only an occasional international-level star in the race, primarily since the Laguna Seca round either conflicted with the 8 Hours or was days after the event. From 2002-2014, only World Superbike stars have participated in the event, and four European riders have won, with the 2013 three-rider team consisting mostly of European riders.

Since Laguna Seca was removed, MotoGP stars have once again participated in the race, as Yamaha has won with Bradley Smith in 2015, along with Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who was a MotoGP rider at the time, and MotoGP rider Pol Espargaró, the 2013 Moto2 champion. Double MotoGP champion Casey Stoner also came out of retirement that year to race for Honda, alongside Michael van der Mark and Takumi Takahashi. His team was leading the race until Stoner crashed out when his throttle stuck open, resulting in a fractured tibia and shoulder for the Australian. Espargaró and Nakasuga (now just a Yamaha test driver in addition to domestic racing in Japan) repeated the feat in 2016 with Alex Lowes as the third rider. Nakasuga won the race third time in a row in 2017 with Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, marking him the second driver to win three consecutive endurance races, after Aaron Slight achieved the feat in the 1990s.

WinnersEdit

Year No. Team Riders Manufacturer Motorcycle Laps Time
2018 21   Yamaha Factory Racing Team   Katsuyuki Nakasuga
  Alex Lowes
  Michael van der Mark
Yamaha Yamaha YZF-R1 199 8:00'01.728
2017 21   Yamaha Factory Racing Team   Katsuyuki Nakasuga
  Alex Lowes
  Michael van der Mark
Yamaha Yamaha YZF-R1 216 8:00'32.959
2016[3] 21   Yamaha Factory Racing Team   Katsuyuki Nakasuga
  Alex Lowes
  Pol Espargaro
Yamaha Yamaha YZF-R1 218 8:00'40.124
2015[4] 21   Yamaha Factory Racing Team   Katsuyuki Nakasuga
  Bradley Smith
  Pol Espargaro
Yamaha Yamaha YZF-R1 204 8:00'29.708
2014 634   MuSASHi [ja] RT HARC-PRO.   Takumi Takahashi
  Michael van der Mark
  Leon Haslam
Honda CBR1000RRW 172 6:56'13.056
2013 634   MuSASHi [ja] RT HARC-PRO.   Takumi Takahashi
  Michael van der Mark
  Leon Haslam
Honda CBR1000RRW 214 8:00'01.280
2012 11   F.C.C. [ja]-TSR [it] Honda   Kousuke Akiyoshi
  Tadayuki Okada
  Jonathan Rea
Honda CBR1000RRW 215 8:01'35.450
2011 11   F.C.C. [ja]-TSR [it] Honda   Kousuke Akiyoshi
  Ryuichi Kiyonari
  Shinichi Itoh
Honda CBR1000RRW 217 8:00'50.922
2010 634   MuSASHi [ja] RT HARC-PRO.   Takumi Takahashi
  Ryuichi Kiyonari
  Takaaki Nakagami
Honda CBR1000RRW 215 8:01'13.428
2009 12   Yoshimura Suzuki [it] with JOMO   Daisaku Sakai [ja]
  Kazuki Tokudome
  Nobuatsu Aoki
Suzuki S-GSX-R1000 183 8:01'59"916
2008 11   Dream [ja] Honda Racing   Ryuichi Kiyonari
  Carlos Checa
Honda CBR1000RRW 214 8:00'20"726
2007 34   Yoshimura Suzuki [it] with JOMO   Yukio Kagayama
  Kousuke Akiyoshi
Suzuki S-GSX-R1000 216 8:01'35"077
2006 778   F.C.C. [ja]-TSR [it] ZIP-FM [ja] Racing   Takeshi Tsujimura
  Shinichi Itoh
Honda CBR1000RRW 214 8:02'07"624
2005 7   Seven Stars Racing   Tohru Ukawa
  Ryuichi Kiyonari
Honda CBR1000RRW 204 8:01'22"351
2004 7   Seven Stars Racing   Tohru Ukawa
  Hitoyasu Izutsu [it]
Honda CBR1000RRW 210 8:01'35"115
2003 71   Team Sakurai Honda   Yukio Nukumi [ja]
  Manabu Kamada
Honda VTR1000SPW 212 8:00'38"909
2002 11   Team Cabin [ja] Honda   Daijiro Kato
  Colin Edwards
Honda VTR1000SPW 219 8:02'04"992
2001 11   Team Cabin [ja] Honda   Valentino Rossi
  Colin Edwards
Honda VTR1000SPW 217 8:01'30"173
2000 4   Team Cabin [ja] Honda   Tohru Ukawa
  Daijiro Kato
Honda VTR1000SPW 215 8:00'31"775
1999 4   Lucky Strike Honda   Tadayuki Okada
  Alex Barros
Honda RC45 213 8:01'59"918
1998 33   Lucky Strike Honda & Iwaki   Shinichi Itoh
  Tohru Ukawa
Honda RC45 212 8:01'54"740
1997 33   Hori-Pro Honda with HARC   Shinichi Itoh
  Tohru Ukawa
Honda RC45 186 8:02'03"722
1996 45   Yamaha Racing Team   Colin Edwards
  Noriyuki Haga
Yamaha YZF750 214 8:02'06"411
1995 11   Team HRC   Aaron Slight
  Tadayuki Okada
Honda RC45 212 8:00'00"468
1994 11   Team HRC   Doug Polen
  Aaron Slight
Honda RC45 183 6:52'49"056
1993 1   Itoham [ja] Racing Kawasaki   Scott Russell
  Aaron Slight
Kawasaki ZXR-7 207 8:01'13"713
1992 11   Oki Honda Racing Team   Wayne Gardner
  Daryl Beattie
Honda RVF750 208 8:00'07"117
1991 11   Oki Honda Racing Team   Wayne Gardner
  Mick Doohan
Honda RVF750 192 7:59'25"924
1990 21   Shiseido Tech 21 Racing Team   Tadahiko Taira
  Eddie Lawson
Yamaha YZF750 205 7:57'35"859
1989 2   Beams Honda with Ikuzawa   Dominique Sarron
  Alex Vieira
Honda RVF750 202 7:58'34"328
1988 3   Team Lucky Strike Roberts   Kevin Magee
  Wayne Rainey
Yamaha YZF750 202 8:02'21"384
1987 21   Shiseido Tech 21 Racing Team   Martin Wimmer
  Kevin Magee
Yamaha YZF750 200 8:01'30"045
1986 4   Team HRC   Wayne Gardner
  Dominique Sarron
Honda RVF750 197 8:01'30"738
1985 3   Team HRC   Wayne Gardner
  Masaki Tokuno
Honda RVF750 195 8:01'40"102
1984 1   Honda America   Mike Baldwin
  Fred Merkel
Honda RS750R [it] 191 8:01'30"35
1983 6   HB Suzuki France [fr]   Hervé Moineau
  Richard Hubin
Suzuki GS1000R 190 8:02'29"32
1982 27   Blue Helmet MSC   Shigeo Iijima
  Shinji Hagiwara
Honda CB900F 120 6:02'55"83
1981 1   Honda France   Mike Baldwin
  David Aldana
Honda RS1000 199 8:00'47"12
1980 12   Yoshimura R&D [it]   Wes Cooley
  Graeme Crosby
Suzuki GS1000 200 8:01'03"54
1979 6   Honda Australia   Tony Hatton
  Michael Cole [fr]
Honda CB900 197 8:00'23"78
1978 2   Yoshimura Racing [it]   Wes Cooley
  Mike Baldwin
Suzuki GS1000 194 8:02'51"53

By manufacturerEdit

Wins Manufacturer
27   Honda
7   Yamaha
5   Suzuki
1   Kawasaki

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c West, Phil. "10 reasons to watch the Suzuka 8-hour this weekend". Bennetts UK. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  2. ^ "Suzuka Circuit: Race Information". SuzukaCircuit.com. Archived from the original on February 9, 2005. Retrieved 2007-03-07.
  3. ^ "Official race results" (PDF). fimewc.com. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Official race results" (PDF). fimewc.com. Retrieved 26 April 2017.

External linksEdit