Monday, July 27


YAMAHA riders Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith gave the new Yamaha YZF-R1 a resounding endorsement by winning the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hour race in Japan on Sunday.

It was the first time a Yamaha had had won the prestigious Japanese race in 19 years.  It also marked just the fifth time in the race's history that a Yamaha has won the 8-Hour, which was first run in 1978.

Riding for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team, Espargaró put the team into pole position in the Top 10 Trial, clocking a sensational 2m 06.00s lap in his time attack, with Nakasuga just a fraction slower.

During this session, two riders from each of the top ten teams from regular qualifying are allowed to ride one flying lap each around the technically challenging Suzuka Circuit to fight for pole position.

Espargaró was the first YFTR rider to hit the clear track and set a hot lap. The Spaniard pushed to the absolute limit, using all his MotoGP experience to set his stunning  lap for provisional pole, which at the time was 1.697 seconds faster than anyone.

Then it was local Yamaha hero Nakasuga's turn to step aboard the YZF-R1. The experienced Japanese rider rode smoothly and aggressively through the twisty section to finish with an impressive lap just 0.059s off his team-mate.

In the race, Nakasuga was the starting Yamaha factory rider and after losing places from the Le Mans start, he carved his way to the front as he chased down the race leaders.  By lap three he had climbed up to sixth and kept the pressure on.  On the sixth lap, still with a reasonable fuel load, he clocked a stunning 2m 08.496s lap, which turned out to be the fastest of the race.

Scheduled to stop for a rider change and fuel at the end of the 25th lap, race leader Nakasuga managed to eek out two more laps on his fuel before pitting to hand over to English rider Bradley Smith who re-entered in third position, but soon moved up when new race leader Casey Stoner crashed out of the race.  

Smith then had to deal with two separate safety car stints before finally taking the front a little more than two hours into the race.

It was then Espargarò's turn.  The Spaniard had been consistently fast all weekend and didn't disappoint.  He and Nakasuga created a comfortable margin before it was time for Smith to ride again.

He was only able to complete a few laps before being called in for a 30 second 'Stop and Go' penalty for Espargaró having passed under a yellow flag.

The penalty cost them a position but it wasn't long before Smith was back in first place and building a healthy gap before handing the bike over to Espargaró for a second time.

He and Nakasuga gave their all in their final riding stints before handing over to Smith for the last leg. The Brit's final ride of the race was far from simple as a third safety car caused some last-minute tension.  Smith was again able to manage the situation perfectly and rode the factory Yamaha YZF-R1 through the last corner to the deafening sound of cheering from the many thousand race fans as he took the chequered flag with a solid 1m 17.411s advantage over the second-placed FCC TSR Honda CBR1000R with the Team Kagayama Suzuki GSX-R1000 a lap down in third place.

Fourth place went to the Suzuki Endurance Racing team's GSX-R1000, two laps down. But the 21 points the team gained here, added to the maximum 60 gained at the opening round, the Le Mans 24-Hour, sees them well in control of the 2015 FIM Endurance World Championship.  The Suzuki teams is 29 points ahead of the GMT94 Yamaha team, which finished sixth at Suzuka.


2015 Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hour race

1. Yamaha Factory Racing (Nakasuga, Espargarò, Smith) – Yamaha YZF-R1 –  204 laps – Total Time: 8:00’29.708 (Bridgestone)
2. FCC TSR Honda (Hook, Smith, Aegerter) – Honda CBR1000RR – 204 laps +1’17.411 (Bridgestone)
3. Team KAGAYAMA (Kagayama, Haga, Riyonary) – Suzuki GSX-R1000 - 203 laps  (Dunlop)
4.  Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Philippe, Delhalle, Masson) – Suzuki GSX-R1000 - 202 laps (Dunlop)
5. Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance (Tsuda, Waters, Lowes) – Suzuki GSX-R1000 – 201 laps (Bridgestone)
6.  GMT94 Yamaha (Checa, Foray, Gines) – Yamaha YZF-R1 – 201 laps, (Dunlop)
7. Honda Endurance Team (Da Costa, Gimbert, Foray) – Honda CBR1000RR – 201 laps (Dunlop)
8.  Honda Suzuka Racing Team (Hiura, Kamei, Yasuda) – Honda CBR1000RR –  200 laps (Bridgestone)
9. Team Green (Yanagawa, Yudhistira, Watanabe) – Kawasaki ZX-10R – 199 laps (Bridgestone)

10. MotoMap SUPPLY (Konno, Aoki, Ogata) – Suzuki GSX-R1000 – 199 laps (Bridgestone)