Suzuka 8 Hours

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The Coca-Cola Zero 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.

History[edit]

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 riders[edit]

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. 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 only driver to win three consecutive endurance races.

Winners[edit]

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

By manufacturer[edit]

Wins Manufacturer
27 Japan Honda
7 Japan Yamaha
5 Japan Suzuki
1 Japan Kawasaki

References[edit]

  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 links[edit]