Team HRC Wins By More Than a Lap Giving Honda Its First Win in Eight Years, 28th Total
On Lap 165, Team HRC’s Lecuona changes with Takahashi. #10 Kawasaki also changes its rider to Jonathan Rea. After 170 laps, Takahashi leads, Canepa (Yamaha) is second, and Rea (Kawasaki) is third.
At this stage, seven Honda teams are in the top twelve. Hamahara (Honda Dream RT SAKURAI HONDA) is sixth, Kunimine (TOHO Racing) is seventh, Azman (Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA) ninth, Yuki Takahashi (Team ATJ with JAPAN POST) tenth, Hook (F.C.C. TSR Honda France) 11th, and Tajiri (GOSHI Racing) is 12th.
In the closing stages, teams change riders for the final stint. Kiyonari takes over from Kunimine for TOHO Racing, Zaidi from Azman for Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA. Honda team begin to pit. As the seven hour mark passed, Fritz (Yamaha) crashed at the spoon curve, bringing out the safety car as multiple riders were involved. The race order changes to Takahashi, Rea and Watanabe (Suzuki). At 7 hours 19 minutes, the safety car leaves the track. Team HRC’s Takahashi pits on Lap 196, and after 41.776 s, Nagashima is back on the track for the final stint.
While Haslam (Kawasaki) laps in the 2 min 12 s range, and Watanabe (Suzuki), third, in the 2 min 13 s range, Nagashima sets himself apart by lapping at 2 min 8 s as the sun sets.
Nagashima had a clear track until the end, crossing the finish line to an ecstatic grand stand. The win marks Honda first victory since 2014, and its first victory as a factory team since 2008. Team HRC set lap records in Qualifying and Top 10 Qualifying to take pole position. Takahashi, Nagashima and Lecuona all lapped at impressive pace throughout the race, lapping all other teams, demonstrating the return of a strong Honda.
Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8H was second overall, and YOSHIMURA SERT MOTUL (Suzuki) was third. For Honda, TOHO Racing was fifth, Honda Dream RT SAKURAI HONDA sixth, Team ATJ with JAPAN POST eighth, F.C.C. TSR Honda France tenth, Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA 11th, and GOSHI Racing 12th.
Although 35th and below were not counted as completing the race, #17 Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing was 37th, and #73 SDG Honda Racing was 43rd.
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