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.