Suzuka 8 Hour: Alex Lowes wins, Leon Haslam second, Josh Brookes third (with their team-mates, naturally).

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Alex Lowes has won the Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race in Japan alongside Yamaha Factory Racing team-mates Pol Espargaró and Katsuyuki Nakasuga.

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It was the second year in succession that Yamaha has won the prestigious annual race, second place was bagged by Leon Haslam, Akira Yanagawa and Kazuki Watanabe on the factory Team Green Kawasaki.

Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance’s team of  Josh Brookes, Takuya Tsuda and Noriyuki Haga took third on the Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance bike.

As in 2015, Yamaha Factory Racing Team swept the board at the Suzuka 8 Hour, claiming both pole position and a win.

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Pol Espargaró, Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Alex Lowes led the race for practically all of the 218 laps. Ryuichi Kiyonari, who got off to a brilliant start in the saddle of Team Kagayama’s Suzuki, was the only one to briefly wrestle the lead out of their grasp.

Head and shoulders above the others with a fastest lap of 2.08.411, Yamaha Factory Racing Team widened the gap with the other potential winners as the hours slipped by.

Team Green and Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance had waged a heated battle for the second step of the podium in the final few hours of the race, but Team Green managed to turn the duel to its advantage. The last time a Kawasaki was on the Suzuka 8 Hour podium was in 2009.

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FIM EWC championship thrown wide open
YART Yamaha Official EWC Team finished fourth – the best-placed of the FIM EWC championship teams – and is now back in the running for the world title, on par with Team SRC Kawasaki and just ahead of Suzuki Endurance Racing Team and F.C.C. TSR Honda. All three teams, likely candidates for a FIM EWC 2016 championship win, had a tough time of it at Suzuka. Team SRC Kawasaki looked settled in 10th place after a very focused start by Gregory Leblanc, Matthieu Lagrive and Jérémy Guarnoni. But a rear wheel axle issue forced them to withdraw six hours into the race. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team was among the top 10 in the first hour, but after a stop-and-go penalty for a jump start and Vincent Philippe crashing due to a passing backmarker, the team finished 23rd. F.C.C. TSR Honda started from fourth on the grid and did battle with the leading pack for the first few laps, but slid down the rankings after Dominique Aegerter crashed on the fifth lap. F.C.C. TSR Honda finished 18th.

Team April Moto Motors Events still leading the championship
Moto Map Supply were fifth past the finish line with Josh Waters, Nobuatsu Aoki and Yoshihiro Konno, ahead of another Suzuki – the Team Kagayama machine. Yukio Kagayama, Naomichi Uramoto and Ryuichi Kiyonari were slowed down by an especially laborious refuelling stop, followed by a flat tyre. Eva RT Trick Star finished seventh with riders Osamu Deguchi, Hitoyasu Izutsu and Erwan Nigon. This competitive Japanese team has announced its intention of taking part in the entire FIM EWC championship next season. A tight group of four Japanese teams on Hondas finished in eighth to 11th place: Honda Team Asia, Mistresa with ATS, Teluru Kohara RT (who’d got Damian Cudlin on board) and Toho Racing. Team R2CL, Honda Endurance Racing, GMT94 Yamaha and Team Bolliger Switzerland finished in the top 15. GMT94 Yamaha had the best grid position of these four permanent FIM EWC teams, but a rear wheel issue followed by electrical problems slowed them down. Team April Moto Motors Events was 19th at the finish. The upsets that afflicted the favourites at Suzuka enabled this French privateer to hold on to the top spot in the provisional FIM EWC championship standings, with an eight-point lead over Team SRC Kawasaki and YART Yamaha Official EWC Team.

Race Results:

1. Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Katsuyuki Nakasuga/Pol Espargaro/Alex Lowes), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, Bridgestone, 218 laps, Total Race Time 8:00:40.124, 2:08.411

2. Team Green (Akira Yanagawa/Leon Haslam/Kazuki Watanabe), Kaw ZX-10R, Superbike, Bridgestone, -137.883 seconds, 2:08.805

3. Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance (Takuya Tsuda/Josh Brookes/Noriyuki Haga), Suz GSX-R1000, Superbike, Bridgestone, -1 lap, 2:09.070

4. YART Yamaha – Official EWC Team (Broc Parkes/Kouta Nozane/Takuya Fujita), Yam YZF-R1, Superbike, Pirelli, -4 laps, 2:09.789

5. Moto Map Supply (Josh Waters/Nobuatsu Aoki/Yoshiniro Konno), Suz GSX-R1000, Superbike, Bridgestone, -4 laps, 2:11.147

6. Team Kagayama (Yukio Kagayama/Naomichi Uramoto/Ryuichi Kiyonari), Suz GSX-R1000, Superbike, Dunlop, -5 laps, 2:08.896

7. EVA RT TEST TYPE-01 Trick STAR (Osamu Deguchi/Hitoyasu Izutsu/Erwan Nigon), Kaw ZX-10R, Superbike, Dunlop, -5 laps, 2:11.580

8. Satu HATI Honda Team Asia (M. Zaqhwan Zaidi/Dimas Ekky Pratama), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, Bridgestone, -6 laps, 2:10.990

9. Mistresa with ATS (Takahiro Nakatsuhara/Ryuta Kobayashi/Taro Sekiguchi), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, Bridgestone, -6 laps, 2:11.747

10. au&Teturu Johara RT (Damian Cudlin/H. Ohkubo/K. Akiyoshi), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, Dunlop, -6 laps, 2:10.277

11. TOHO Racing (Gino Rea/Tatsuya Yamaguchi/Ratthapark Wilairot), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, Bridgestone, -7 laps, 2:09.789

12. Team R2CL (Aaron Morris/Sebastien Suchet), Suz GSX-R1000, Superbike, Dunlop, -8 laps, 2:12.702

13. Honda Endurance Racing (Julien Da Costa/Sebastien Gimbert/Freddy Foray), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, Dunlop, -8 laps, 2:11.652

14. GMT94 Yamaha (David Checa/Niccolo Canepa/Lucas Mahias), Yam YZF-R1), Superbike, Dunlop, -8 laps, 2:10.959

15. Team Bolliger Switzerland (Horst Saiger/Michael Savary/Gianluca Vizziello), Kaw ZX-10R, Superbike, Pirelli, -9 laps, 2:12.792

16. Team Tras 135HP (Y. Kodama/R. Katahira/G. Johnson), BMW S1000RR, Superbike, -9 laps, 2:13.073

17. Motorrad Rennsport (K. Teramoto/Pedro Vallcaneras/T. Soma), BMW S1000RR, Superbike, -10 laps, 2:12.674

18. F.C.C. TSR Honda (PJ Jacobsen/Dominique Aegerter/Kazuma Watanabe), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, Bridgestone, -10 laps, 2:09.034

19. Team April Moto Motors Events (Gregg Black/G. Fastre/Alex Cudlin), Suz GSX-R1000, Superbike, -10 laps, 2:12.493

20. Team Frontier (Kazuki Tokudome/Satoru Iwata/Tomoyoshi Koyama), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, Dunlop, -10 laps, 2:12.448

23. Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Vincent Philippe/Anthony Delhalle/Etienne Masson), Suz GSX-R1000, Superbike, Dunlop, -13 laps, 2:11.447

61. Rosetta Motorrad 39 (Kenny Foray/Lukas Pesek/D. Sakai), BMW S1000RR, Superbike, Bridgestone, -19 laps, DNF, 2:10.567

62. Team SRC Kawasaki (Gregory Leblanc/Matthieu Lagrive/Jeremy Guarnoni), Kaw ZX-10R, Superbike, Pirelli, -56 laps, DNF, 2:11.132

65. MuSASHI RT HARC PRO (Michael van der Mark/Nicky Hayden/Takumi Takahashi), Hon CBR1000RR, Superbike, Bridgestone, -144 laps, DNF, 2:08.829

Tony Carter

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