Smith, Espargaro seal Suzuka 8 Hours win for Yamaha
The factory Yamaha team secured its first Suzuka 8 Hours win in 19 years with its riders Bradley Smith, Pol Espargaro and Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
The trio were the dominant force for much of the distance aboard the #21 YZF-R1, taking Yamaha's first victory in the event since 1996 to coincide with the company's 60th anniversary.
Aided by the early demise of defending champions HARC-Pro Honda when two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner suffered a spectacular crash, Yamaha moved into the lead shortly after the ensuing Safety Car period as Smith passed the #778 Honda of Josh Hook.
Yamaha's progress was later delayed by a 30-second penalty for ignoring yellow flags, handing the impetus back to the FCC TSR squad of Hook, Kyle Smith and Dominique Aegerter.
But the Honda couldn't run the same pace of the Yamaha, and although the two bikes would exchange the lead several more times as differing pit strategies panned out, the speed advantage of the Yamaha was simply too much to overcome.
A late Safety Car period failed to derail the Yamaha challenge, with Smith taking over the #21 machine from Nakasuga in the final half hour to secure the win ahead of Aegerter's #778 Honda by a margin of 1m17s.
Third place went to the all-Japanese trio of Yukio Kagayama, Noriyuki Haga and Ryuichi Kiyonari, a lap down on the #17 Team Kagayama Suzuki, ahead of the #30 Suzuki of Le Mans 24 Hours victors Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Etienne Masson.
The #12 Yoshimura Suzuki of Alex Lowes, Josh Waters and Takuya Tsuda finished fifth, but had been a factor at the front in the early stages before a crash for Tsuda necessitated a lengthy stop for repairs and dropped the team out of lead contention.
Race results top 10:
|1||21||Katsuyuki Nakasuga |
|2||778||Josh Hook |
|3||17||Yukio Kagayama |
|4||30||Vincent Philippe |
|5||12||Takuya Tsuda |
|6||94||David Checa |
|7||111||Julien Da Costa |
|8||25||Daijiro Hiura |
|9||87||Akira Yanagawa |
Haji Ahmad Yudhistira
|10||32||Yoshihiro Konno |
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