Honda’s Suzuka 8 Hours Challenge ④ 2010 - 2019
Ryuichi Kiyonari / Takumi Takahashi / Takaaki Nakagami
Ryuichi Kiyonari / Takumi Takahashi / Takaaki Nakagami (CBR1000RR) took the lead mid-race, and won after building up a comfortable margin, giving Kiyonari his third Suzuka 8 Hours win, while 20-year-old Takahashi became the youngest winner. (Records show 18-year-old Nakagami as the youngest winner, but he did not race.) Shinichi Itoh / Makoto Tamada (CBR1000RR) were second, and Kousuke Akiyoshi / Jonathan Rea (CBR1000RR) were third despite an early-stage crash / penalty.
Kousuke Akiyoshi / Shinichi Itoh / Ryuichi Kiyonari
In consideration of the Great East Japan Earthquake which occurred in March, the race started one-hour earlier than usual to save electricity. As the extra daylight racing time would be more physically demanding, most teams competed with three riders. Kousuke Akiyoshi / Shinichi Itoh / Ryuichi Kiyonari (CBR1000RR) emerged as winner of a three-way battle, giving Honda consecutive wins. Yukio Kagayama / Josh Waters / Nobuatsu Aoki (Suzuki) was second, and Takumi Takahashi / Makoto Tamada / Tadayuki Okada (CBR1000RR) was third.
Jonathan Rea / Kousuke Akiyoshi / Tadayuki Okada
As track temperature exceeded 57℃, Jonathan Rea / Kousuke Akiyoshi / Tadayuki Okada (CBR1000RR) was in a fierce battle with Ryuichi Kiyonari / Hiroshi Aoyama / Takumi Takahashi (CBR1000RR) for the lead in the early stages. At 4:30pm as the race entered its second half, Kiyonari crashed, and his bike went up in flames. Akiyoshi took the lead, winning the race four laps ahead of runner-up Tatsuya Yamaguchi / Yuki Takahashi / Yusuke Teshima (CBR1000RR). Akiyoshi claimed his third Suzuka 8 Hours victory.
Takumi Takahashi / Leon Haslam / Michael van der Mark
In the early stages, Takumi Takahashi / Leon Haslam / Michael van der Mark (CBR1000RR) had led the race, but was soon caught by Jonathan Rea / Ryuichi Kiyonari (CBR1000RR). Kiyonari crashed, giving Takumi Takahashi / Leon Haslam / Michael van der Mark a comfortable lead. Rain started falling at 7pm, but Takahashi stayed on slick tires, marking the CBR1000RR‘s fourth consecutive win. Takuya Tsuda / Nobuatsu Aoki / Josh Brookes (Suzuki) was second, and Yukio Kagayama / Kevin Schwantz / Noriyuki Haga (Suzuki) was third.
Takumi Takahashi / Leon Haslam / Michael van der Mark
For the first time in Suzuka 8 Hours history, heavy rain delayed the start of the race. Shortened to 6 hours and 55 minutes, the track alternated between wet and dry conditions, causing mayhem. In the early stages, Kousuke Akiyoshi / Jonathan Rea / Lorenzo Zanetti (CBR1000RR) had gained a comfortable lead, but crashed on Lap 108. Takumi Takahashi / Leon Haslam / Michael van der Mark (CBR1000RR) took over, and after four safety car interventions, won for the second straight year.
Mid-summer heat, sudden rises in track temperature, and six safety car interventions characterized the 2015 Suzuka 8 Hours. In the early stages, Takahashi Takumi (MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO.) battled for the lead over 23 laps. Former MotoGP champion Casey Stoner took over the bike, and recovers the lead, but falls at the hairpin. The team’s chances of a third consecutive win was dashed. F.C.C. TSR Honda took over, with solid rides from Dominique Aegerter and Josh Hook, gaining the lead at one point. After a rider change, Aegerter fights to keep the lead, but relents in the end, finishing second by 1 min 17.411s.
68 bikes lined the grid for the 2016 Suzuka 8 Hours. As the race started under clear skies, F.C.C. TSR Honda positioned itself in second place. Takumi Takahashi (MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO.) also moved through the field, catching the race leaders. Dominique Aegerter (F.C.C. TSR Honda) fell at the motorcycle chicane on Lap 7, requiring repair and lost time. Takahashi had moved up to third, but disaster hit MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Nicky Hayden who was riding at the time, stopped at the chicane. The bike was taken back to the pits, but the team retired. Honda’s best performance this year was Satu HATI. Honda Team Asia (Dimas Ekky Pratama / Muhammad Zaqhwan Zaidi) in eighth place. As Ratthapark Wilairot was injured in practice, the team had no choice but to race for eight hours with two riders. Team manager Makoto Tamada instructed them to ride at their own pace, resulting in a trouble-free, solid race.
The early stages of the race which started under cloudy skies was hectic, as bikes went off the track due to rain. Race contenders MORIWAKI MOTUL RACING, MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda and Team SuP Dream Honda were no exception. F.C.C. TSR Honda had managed to stay in contention, but with 30 minutes remaining, the bike catches on fire, which was luckily extinguished without stopping the bike, but due to concerns, was orange-flagged into the pits. Much time was lost, but a determined ride gave the team third place. MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO. Honda also managed to finish fourth after repairing their bike.
The highlight of a race riddled with rain and crashes was the return after a decade of the factory team Red Bull Honda with Japan Post, finishing second, and the only team that was on the same lap as the rave winner. F.C.C. TSR Honda France, close to securing the 2017-2018 EWC title, rode a solid race, qualifying 12th, finishing seven places up in fifth, and becoming the EWC champions.
The Top 10 trial was canceled due to Typhoon No.6. The race started under clear skies with rising temperatures. With Ryuichi Kiyonari pulling out of the race at the last minute sue to health concerns, Takumi Takahashi and Stefan Bradl rode for Red Bull Honda, fighting well with two other factory teams (Kawasaki and Yamaha), but unfortunately finished third.