WorldSBK duo work with Nakasuga for historic Japanese win
Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race holds a lot of importance for the Japanese factories, a gruelling series of stints in the humid Asian heat; it puts riders through a tough week of practise and qualifying in order to prepare them for the main event. Held on Sunday, teams of three battle it out over the course of eight hours to become the victor, and this season is was Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark and Katsuyuki Nakasuga who took the honours for the Yamaha Factory Team.
Starting the race from pole position after Lowes’ stunning pace in qualifying, the trio split the stints and made the victory look easy. Getting into the lead in the opening hours, they never looked back after the third hour and each rider put in their very best pace to hold onto the all important victory. Smashing the lap record with a time of 2:06.932, they were the team with the target on their backs and took Yamaha’s third Suzuka 8 Hour victory in a row in front of thousands of Japanese fans.
Lowes was the final rider out on track and crossed the line, sealing the victory for his team-mates in the final hour. Delighted with the weekend’s achievements, he beams: "I’m really happy to win the Suzuka 8 Hours again. I was a little bit nervous in the last hour; because these two guys did a fantastic job, we had a little bit of a lead and it’s easy to lose your concentration. The Yamaha Factory Racing Team did a fantastic job and I enjoyed the experience again!"
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK team-mate Michael van der Mark mirrored Lowes’ feelings, and took the time to praise how well the trio made as a team: "I'm really happy to win the Suzuka 8 Hours. This year to win with Yamaha is really special and even though the conditions today were not like usual, it was quite a lot cooler than normal so we were able to be faster! Alex and Nakasuga-san had a great pace and I also felt really good on the bike. We had a fantastic team, all three good on the bike with good pace. Yamaha did an amazing job to prepare the bike and team for this event!"
Japan’s Nakasuga and lead rider was very proud to take the victory, and was thrilled with how the team’s strategy worked: "My teammates were great and really helped me do my best. I wanted to go faster but I knew that I had to hold it in, keep calm and bring the bike back to my teammates. It was easier for me ride because I knew that even if I fell behind a bit, they would definitely be able to make up the difference. We made eight pit stops and the strategy worked very well to bring us the win.”
WorldSBK action resumes in just over three weeks time at the German circuit of Lausitzring, where you can keep up with Yamaha’s progress in the second half of the season, all on the WorldSBK VideoPass.