Race Final Result
EWC 2023
Round 3

Second Consecutive Victory for Team HRC with Japan Post, Top 3 for Honda

jp Suzuka Circuit
Second Consecutive Victory for Team HRC with Japan Post, Top 3 for Honda

Although rain fell in the evening, six full hours of racing in the dry had elapsed. Team HRC with Japan Post (Takumi Takahashi / Tetsuta Nagashima / Xavi Vierge) rider Takahashi still led with a comfortable margin on Lap 170. Greg Black (Suzuki) was second, and TOHO Racing (Ryuichi Kiyonari / Takuma Kunimine / Ikuhiro Enokido) rider Kiyonari was third. Other Honda team riders in the top 10 were SDG Honda Racing (Teppei Nagoe / Naomichi Uramoto / Haruki Noguchi) rider Uramoto in fifth, Honda Dream RT SAKURAI Honda (Kazuki Ito / Daijiro Hiura / Kota Arakawa) rider Ito seventh, F.C.C. TSR Honda France (Mike Di Meglio / Alan Techer / Tarran Mackenzie) rider Di Meglio ninth, and Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA (Md Zaqhwan Bin Zaidi / Andi Farid Izdihar / Nakarin Atiratphuvapat) rider Zaidi tenth.

As the clock past 6:00 pm, reports came in of rain at Turn 1. The rain, however, stopped shortly leaving the track dry, but dark clouds approached Turn 1, threatening heavy rain at any minute. The sky above other parts of the track was clear, but light rain on the track caused the red-cross yellow flag to be waved from the flag posts. The leading teams did not seem to slow down.

Takahashi’s lap time at the end of Lap 178 was 2 min 9.722s. The pits were busy with team preparing rain tires. The sky above Suzuka began to darken, and at 6:12 pm it began to rain.

A number of teams directed their riders to pit for rain tires. On Lap 184, Takahashi’s lap time slowed down to 2 min 34.548, but he, along with many of the other leading teams, decided to stay on slicks. SDG Honda Racing‘s Noguchi and Honda Dream RT SAKURAI Honda‘s Ito, however, pitted.

Despite his severely reduced pace, Takahashi took advantage of the team’s big lead and rode carefully. In the difficult conditions, Kiyonari lapped at 2 min 21.870s on slick tires, more than ten seconds faster than Takahashi’s 2 min 33.116s, putting pressure on Black ahead. Once the Lights On sign was shown and the night came, Black pitted for rain tires, but slipped on his out lap and lost many positions.

Black’s misfortune allowed Kiyonari to move up to second place. His lap time of 2 min 26.877s was much faster than anyone else on track, and he even speeded up to 2 min 15.635s on Lap 186.

On Lap 189, Takahashi was in to the pits to hand his bike to Nagashima, and for a new set of slick tires. Kiyonari was second, Takuya Tsuda (Suzuki) third, Noguchi fourth, and Di Meglio was up to fifth. Ito was seventh, Zaidi eighth, and Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing (Kosuke Sakumoto / Ryo Mizuno / Kazuma Watanabe) rider Watanabe tenth.

On Lap 190, Nagashima upped his pace to 2 min 10.587s, while Kiyonari also set a 2 min 11.135 lap. Noguchi chased Tsuda ahead with a 2 min 12.675s pace, and moved up to third on Lap 188. Di Meglio in fifth sped up to 2 min 11.750s, and Ito was sixth.

Red-crossed flags were being waved as rain fell and the race continued. On Lap 193, Nagashima slowed down to 2 min 17.471, but was still in the lead. Kiyonari was second and Noguchi third. Di Meglio handed his bike to Techer, Kiyonari likewise to Enokido, both teams keeping their positions intact.

On Lap 200 Nagashima led. Enokido was second, Noguchi third, and Techer was up to fourth. Marcel Schrötter (Suzuki) was fifth and Arakawa sixth. Pen lights of the spectators’ favorite team colors began to light up in the stadium.

With thirty minutes remaining, the rain stopped. Nagashima finished his 201st lap in 2 min 10.841s. Enokido also increased his pace to 2 min 9.772s, while Noguchi was 2 min 12.045s. Noguchi pitted for the final rider change to Nagoe. After tires and fuel were changed, Nagoe was back out on track with third place intact.

Nagashima still led at the end of Lap 210. Enokido was second, Nagoe third, Techer fourth, Arakawa sixth, Izdihar eighth, and Watanabe crossed the control line tenth. With 15 minutes left, the entire track was plunged into darkness.

On Lap 215, at 7:24 pm, Nagashima pitted for a splash-and-dash, and was soon out on track. He went on to cross the finish line without further drama, giving Team HRC with Japan Post its second consecutive victory, and Takahashi’s fifth Suzuka 8 Hours win equaling the record held by Toru Ukawa.

Honda dominated the podium with TOHO Racing second and SDG Honda Racing third. F.C.C. TSR Honda France was the best EWC team performer, finishing fourth. Honda Dream RT SAKURAI Honda was sixth, Honda Asia-Dream Racing with SHOWA eighth, and Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing tenth. Seven Honda teams were in the top 10.

*TOHO Racing, which finished in second place, was disqualified from the results by FIM on Tuesday 8 August. The positions of all other finishers are reclassified.

Takumi Takahashi
Takumi Takahashi 33
Team HRC with Japan Post
I’m relieved we won. It started to rain in my final stint, so I thought fate was against us. My lap times were very slow, but I had to stay upright, so I avoided taking any risks. Tetsuta and Xavi both had great pace, which led to our victory. I’m grateful to everyone in the team. I also managed to equal the most Suzuka 8 Hours wins for a rider. I had many chances up to now but failed, so if I have the chance in the future, I’d like to extend my record.

Tetsuta Nagashima
Tetsuta Nagashima 33
Team HRC with Japan Post
I really didn’t know if I could race in the Suzuka 8 Hours this year because of my injury. I was also worried that I would not be fast enough. Without the speed, I would not be selected, and if I was selected, I had to win. There was a lot of pressure, so I’m relieved we won. Last year’s Suzuka 8 Hours was the first time for me so everything was new, and I relied on Takumi a lot and just rode as fast as I could, but this year I’m a bit more mature, and managed to pace myself in the last stint, which I think helped in winning. I’m grateful to everyone at HRC for giving me this opportunity.

Xavi Vierge
Xavi Vierge 33
Team HRC with Japan Post
Being able to race in the Suzuka 8 Hours was the best experience. It was my first time, but I had the best teammates, and learned a lot. The safety car came out during my stint, and I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t have the experience. But I rode carefully, because I could not fail. Takumi and Tetsuta both had tough stints in the rain. I believe we could overcome these difficulties because we worked as a team. I’m grateful for the team’s support as well. I’ll gladly come back to Suzuka as many times as I can to have this amazing experience again!

Teppei Nagoe
Teppei Nagoe 73
SDG Honda Racing
I crashed and injured myself during practice on Friday, and decided with the team that I should rest and prepare for the race. I relied on the team for qualifying and the Top 10 Trial. Noguchi, who filled in for me at the last minute, also supported me. I am grateful to the team. Teamwork did what I couldn’t, and that’s why we were on the podium.

Naomichi Uramoto
Naomichi Uramoto 73
SDG Honda Racing
First, I’d like to thank the team and my teammates. I’m on the Suzuka 8 Hours podium, and it’s only my first attempt. I’m not satisfied with my performance. I am the oldest rider, and I felt I had to lead the team. Even so, we finished third, and that’s because I had great teammates. I’m only able to race because of the sponsors who support me, and my family. We’ve finished the Suzuka 8 Hours in the best possible way, so now I’ll concentrate on the second half of the Spanish Superbike season.

Haruki Noguchi
Haruki Noguchi 73
SDG Honda Racing
I joined the team during race week, and with the help of Nagoe and Uramoto, was able to race in my first Suzuka 8 Hours. Considering Nagoe’s condition, I rode three stints. I was able to gain some places in the rain. It was a very good experience. I’m grateful to my team and teammates. I’ll be racing in the Asia Road Racing Championship next week, so I’ll aim for good results there.

Mike Di Meglio
Mike Di Meglio 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
I’m sorry to the team for crashing, but I managed to get back up. When the weather changed in the closing stages, I did my best and was up to fifth place. A podium finish would have been a dream come true, but it was good that we finished fourth. We’ll aim to win the championship in Bol d’Or.

Alan Techer
Alan Techer 1
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
Finishing fourth here was good for us in terms of the championship. We gained a lot of points. We’re concentrating on winning the championship, so now I can concentrate on Bol d’Or. I want to win the race and the championship.

Tarran Mackenzie
Tarran Mackenzie 5
F.C.C. TSR Honda France
I didn’t think I could be racing, so my first Suzuka 8 Hours was difficult. I let down the team, who are fighting for the championship, but I’m relieved I managed to finish. I’d like to thank all our fans who supported us.

Ryuichi Kiyonari 104
TOHO Racing
I thank the team for using the 40-year-old me. They increased staff, bought everything necessary, worked without sleep, and prepared everything right up to the race. It’s because of the team that we were on the podium. I believe that Enokido joining the team at the last-minute breathed new life into the team, gave us strength, and allowed both Kunimine and I to feel confident in racing. I’m grateful to the team, and team riders, who made our podium a reality. Thank you.

Takuma Kunimine 104
TOHO Racing
I wasn’t performing throughout race week, and couldn’t contribute to the team very well, but thanks to my teammates, we finished on the podium. Being on the Suzuka 8 Hours podium was my dream, so I’m really happy. I am grateful to the sponsors who enabled us to race, and the team.

Ikuhiro Enokido 104
TOHO Racing
I was shouting “Suzuka 8 Hours rules!” on the podium, and used up all my energy. I can’t think of anything smart to say. The Suzuka 8 Hours is a long and hard race, and I felt it can’t be done alone. I believe I could race here because Kiyonari and Kunimine were with me. I’m grateful to everyone at TOHO Racing to welcome me into the team. The Suzuka 8 Hours podium was awesome.

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