Victorious Suzuka 8 Hours For KRT As SRC Kawasaki France Wins The Championship!

After a truly epic and finally dramatic contest the Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8 Hours squad took the race victory on their Ninja ZX-10RR, securing Kawasaki’s first win at this highly prestigious event since 1993. There was double joy for Kawasaki as the FIM World Endurance Championship title went to the Team SRC Kawasaki France […]

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After a truly epic and finally dramatic contest the Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8 Hours squad took the race victory on their Ninja ZX-10RR, securing Kawasaki’s first win at this highly prestigious event since 1993. There was double joy for Kawasaki as the FIM World Endurance Championship title went to the Team SRC Kawasaki France squad, after they posted a 12th place finish in the final race of the season.

Forming a two-rider team in the race the experienced Suzuka 8 Hours duo of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam took turns to take on the serious competition that had been evident from the very first laps, as the first-time 8 Hours rider Toprak Razgatlioglu played his role as reserve rider.

Having made their Le Mans-style start from second place on the grid the early action in the race was incredibly tight for Jonathan and Leon, with KRT third after the first hour – at which point five different teams were covered by just 0.795 seconds.

The KRT riders led after four hours, after five, then six, and then again at the seven hour point.

With Haslam struggling with recent injuries in the final laps of his riding stints Rea, the four-time WorldSBK champion for Kawasaki, re-took the lead in the very last session and looked destined to secure the win for KRT.

In an unbelievable turn of bad luck Rea arrived on another machine’s oil spill in the gloomy and damp conditions that arrived just as the daylight was exhausted. He fell, blamelessly, but was unable to restart.

At that stage the dream of a famous race victory seemed gone and the official Yamaha team were initially declared winners after a red flag was thrown because of the oil.

Despite missing out on the initial podium ceremony, and after a long period of time, the results were amended by the race organisers to put the number 10 Kawasaki back on top. In the final reckoning KRT won the race by 18.720 seconds from Yamaha, with three teams in all on the same lap total of 216.

Even before the final race classification was determined the Number 11 Team SRC Kawasaki France entry of Jeremy Guarnoni, Erwan Nigon and David Checa had already won the FIM Endurance World Championship title outright for the Team SRC Kawasaki France outfit.

Although they lost one place from their immediate Suzuka classification of 11th, to finish an official 12th in the race, their closest rivals Suzuki Endurance Racing Team suffered a technical retirement.

The next-closest team to SRC entering the final round, F.C.C TSR Honda France, could not make up enough points today to deprive the French based Ninja ZX-10RR squad of a famous World Championship success.

After leading but then finishing a disappointed seventh at the Bol d’Or championship opener, the SRC 2018/2019 championship winning season included a race win at the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours race in April.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I cannot believe what is happening really. From being dejected and feeling that everything was out of our hands, I had already gone back to the hotel, said goodbye to all the guys, with lots of tears. I was in the restaurant already, ordering dinner, when my mechanic Uri called me and said, ‘Hey, are you sitting down?’ I thought he was going to ask me to go to another restaurant – but he then told me we had won the 8 Hours. I think common sense prevailed in that one. I have no words because I am really emotional and happy. The strategy was to work on fuel consumption and race consistency and make no mistakes. I feel we executed that quite well although I got quite tired and cramped at the end. But we prepared the best way possible with the limited time we had. I am so proud to be part of the project and what an effort from KRT, KHI, KMJ who prepared for this race in two tests. During the race it is like hell, the hardest race you can ever imagine, but getting a result like this almost makes me want to come back for more. The emotional roller coaster is unreal.”

Leon Haslam, stated: “From everyone being in tears to getting the news sitting in a restaurant that we actually did win it, I have no words to describe how I feel. The Suzuka 8 Hours is always one of the hardest races of the year. The effort we put in to win, from us, the team and Kawasaki means it has been a big roller coaster of emotion. When the oil went down and the situation happened at the end; words cannot describe the lows we had. But when the good news came through, the highs were just as high. In the second half of each stint I really struggled physically but the bike was working well. I am so happy and I want to thank Kawasaki for this opportunity; also the whole team, Toprak and Johnny, and we pushed as hard as we could. It is a shame that we did not get to stand on the top of the podium but the result is in and we have won the Suzuka 8 Hours.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu, stated; “Today I am very tired after watching the race for eight hours! But I am very happy for Johnny and Leon because that was an incredible job today. We are all happy and thank you to everyone. For me this was my first time here – and our team won.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team manager, stated: “This race has been outstanding and I think for the public, the fans and everyone it has been the most incredible Suzuka 8 Hours. Yamaha, Honda and Kawasaki – the riders and the factories – have been amazing everybody and they all saw a great race. The best point is that we finally got the victory after Johnny made an incredible last riding stint. The strategy we planned was very good so at the end we got the victory.”

TEAM SRC KAWASAKI FRANCE QUOTES

Jeremy Guarnoni, stated: “It is unbelievable to win the championship and for me it has been the first time that I have done the full season – and we won it. We deserve it because after the Bol d’Or it was a really difficult moment for the team and me – for my head. Of course we are a bit lucky at the end but we deserve it because we made the job in Le Mans and I have two unbelievable team-mates. The team itself and the bike were – all season – really good. This weekend was a bit more difficult but Suzuka is always a strange race. We are really happy.”

Erwan Nigon, stated: “What a race and what a championship also. We had all weather conditions, 24-hour races are hard and early in the 2018/2019 season we had a victory at Le Mans which is always a good sign for the rest of the championship. We pushed a lot all through this year and in the end we won the championship. First time for me and I want to say thanks to the team because they worked a lot all winter to adjust the bike to make good race settings. Many thanks to my partners, my family and my incredible team-mates. We are friends also so it is a really good feeling to win it with them.”

David Checa, stated: “I do not know what to say. In my first year with Kawasaki and Gilles’s team I am world champion again. It is like a dream. When you change a team it is not easy, when you change a brand it is not easy, but my team and my team-mates did a really good job. The atmosphere in the team is incredible. We are friends and for me this is the main point. When we talk and share everything for sure you push more. I believed that we could win the championship all year. The Bol d’Or was frustrating because we had a problem two hours from the end but we continued to believe. When you dream, and believe, the dream can come true – and we are world champions. Now I want to win the next Bol d’Or for Kawasaki, my team-mates and my team. We are world champions today but we have to think of the future and that future now is the Bol D’Or.”

Gilles Staffler, SRC Team Manager, stated: “We are very happy, the riders made a really good job, my team too, and it is fantastic. To win the title was a dream for us and Kawasaki and all the sponsors. It is a great day.”

#NinjaSpirit

#KRTSuzuka8Hours2019

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Suzuki Riders Take To The Stage At The SUZUKA 8 Hours

Team Suzuki Press Office • Typhoon #6 causes Top-10 Trial cancellation. • Friday’s results stand for tomorrow’s start. • Suzuki Teams take to the stage and meet fans. Typhoon #6…

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Team Suzuki Press Office • Typhoon #6 causes Top-10 Trial cancellation. • Friday’s results stand for tomorrow’s start. • Suzuki Teams take to the stage and meet fans. Typhoon #6...

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Kawasaki’s Suzuka 8Hours Story – a new chapter approaches

The finale of the FIM World Endurance Championship – the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hours – will shortly take place at the classic Japanese circuit, with the Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8 Hours effort currently making its approach to race day itself on Sunday July 28. Under the relatively recent changes to the shape of the entire […]

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The finale of the FIM World Endurance Championship – the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hours – will shortly take place at the classic Japanese circuit, with the Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8 Hours effort currently making its approach to race day itself on Sunday July 28.

Under the relatively recent changes to the shape of the entire EWC calendar the Suzuka 8 Hours will truly will be a finale. Unlike other FIM World Championship series the EWC is run from the middle of each calendar year to the middle of the next – making this year’s championship a fight for the 2018/2019 crown. Currently Team SRC Kawasaki France is leading the championship, with the intention of getting the ultimate job done in a few days’ time.

As well as being the championship decider in modern times the mystique and status of the Suzuka 8 Hours as a stand-alone event mean it is something of a living motorsports legend. It is such a landmark on the calendar that frequently one of the first questions star riders from other global and domestic championships are asked in winter testing is “Are you doing ‘The 8 Hours’?” Everybody knows what you mean – even when other EWC events on the calendar are also raced over an eight-hour duration.

This year, on the Number 10 ‘Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuki 8 Hours’ Ninja ZX-10RR, four-time WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea, reigning BSB Champion and serial WorldSBK podium rider Leon Haslam, and WorldSBK independent rider points leader Toprak Razgatlioglu will combine to form something of a dream team. This season the official Kawasaki effort has been reorganized with several KRT WorldSBK technical staff members joining the home-based KHI staff – all sharing the clear view of winning the race for Kawasaki for the first time since 1993.

The ambition to score the outright win is evident and understandable. It is the race that all the Japanese factories in particular want to take more than any other, combining as it does a short enough overall duration to make it almost a sprint race, but also providing a test of machinery over eight steamy and challenging hours at the height of the punishing Japanese summer.

Started in daylight but finishing in the dark, it is a huge racing challenge for manufacturers, riders and teams to undertake. The uniquely-designed 5.821km long circuit comprises a figure eight, with a tunnel and a bridge section, all of which contribute to the complexities that have to be overcome to win this iconic contest.

Kawasaki has been at the forefront of competition since the very first Suzuka 8 Hours race in 1978. In that first year Kawasaki finished on the podium first time out. New Zealander Graeme ‘Croz’ Crosby and Australia’s Tony Hatton took their Yoshimura Racing Group Kawasaki Z1 to third place.

In those early days teams arrived with all kinds of machinery, not all of it strictly production-derived. A Yamaha TZ750 finished second in 1978; a Kawasaki Z750 placed fifth for the Kobe Supersports Team and its two local riders, Masaki Tokuno and Hiroshi Iwamichi. The wonderfully named Hamamatsu Escargot (escargot is French for snail…) overcame their own kind of capacity disadvantage, not to mention their own name, to finish 12th on a CB400. Even small capacity two-strokes also made up many places in the high end of the midfield. At the other end of the scale a CBX1200 – from ‘Team CBX’ finished 11th. Kawasaki’s Sugiyama Cycle Shop, running a Z920, was a first year entry, finishing in 13th overall, and the Z650-equipped Kinomi Racing team was just one place behind.

The mix of full factory teams (with GP-level riders often drafted in) taking on some very privateer efforts (with keen locals and often some eclectic choices of machinery), would continue long into the next few years. At the same time, however, the Suzuka 8 Hours was already a very serious business for all the Japanese manufacturers, who would ring fence some very heavy racing investments for their own ‘race-within-a-championship’ weekend that continue to this day.

Often factory efforts would take on two or three guises, some introducing an international element, several enjoying a technical co-operation with tuning companies like Yoshimura or Moriwaki, plus ‘foreign’ teams from National or International competition would bring their own fresh outsiders’ view into the Suzuka fishbowl. Even with the strongest efforts, success is never guaranteed in endurance racing, but in 1980 the official Team Kawasaki squad took Gregg Hansford and Eddie Lawson (yes, that Eddie Lawson) to the runner-up spot – within a mere 40 seconds of the win.

The breakthrough Kawasaki Suzuka 8 Hours race victory came in 1993, when Kawasaki legends Scott Russell and Aaron Slight rode their ITOH HAM Racing Kawasaki ZXR-7 into history, heading up a quality field of rival machines. And not to forget some truly superstar names such as Eddie Lawson, Takuma Aoki, Michael Doohan, Daryl Beattie, Alex Barros, Peter Goddard, Kenny Roberts Jnr., Robbie Phillis… Nothing underlines the idea of how big the Suzuka 8 Hours had grown by that stage than the roll call of names drafted in to give each manufacturer the chance of winning. 120,000 people witnessed the success America’s Russell and New Zealand’s Slight enjoyed that year on their Kawasaki, in what was and is the most Japanese race meeting it is possible to imagine.

Now with SRC Kawasaki France riding high in the overall championship points, and the KRT Rea, Haslam and Razgatlioglu trio looking to take their Ninja ZX-10RR to the very top in a few days’ time, all eyes will be focused on the green pit boxes. The anticipation and expectation is growing with every second now, but at least we do not have long to wait. Just until July 28, 11.30 local time in Japan, to be precise.

ENDS…. for now

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Elias & Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 Win Laguna Seca

Team Suzuki Press Office Toni Elias – GSX-R1000 – 1-2 Josh Herrin – GSX-R1000 – DNF-4 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Toni Elias had a highly successful weekend at WeatherTech Raceway…

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Team Suzuki Press Office Toni Elias – GSX-R1000 – 1-2 Josh Herrin – GSX-R1000 – DNF-4 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Toni Elias had a highly successful weekend at WeatherTech Raceway...

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Rea Extends Championship Lead With Win And Second

Jonathan Rea (KRT) enters the long summer break in WorldSBK action with an 81-point championship lead having scored another race win and a final runner-up spot on Sunday at Laguna Seca. Leon Haslam (KRT) recovered well from his big fall on Saturday to record a fifth and sixth place finish today. Top independent rider Toprak […]

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Jonathan Rea (KRT) enters the long summer break in WorldSBK action with an 81-point championship lead having scored another race win and a final runner-up spot on Sunday at Laguna Seca. Leon Haslam (KRT) recovered well from his big fall on Saturday to record a fifth and sixth place finish today. Top independent rider Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) took another podium finish, in Race Two.

With two races to compete in each Sunday in the 2019 season, Rea and Haslam had two opportunities to score at the intense 3.660km circuit in California, and both rose to the occasion.

The Tissot-Superpole race was cut from ten to eight laps after a red flag was thrown to halt the action after two backmarkers had crashed. For the second time this weekend former championship leader Alvaro Bautista fell in a race, and he could not make the restarted Superpole race.

Rea, setting a new lap record of 1’22.700 in the process, won the Tissot-Superpole race to take his total of 2019 race victories to nine after winning the opening Laguna Seca race on Saturday.

There was to be no tenth race win to round out this weekend but in finishing a strong second behind Chaz Davies in Race Two Rea extended his championship points lead to a remarkable 81, on a weekend when his main rival Bautista no scored completely after retiring from Race Two.

Rea lifted his career race-winning total to a new and unparalleled height of 80 (part of 156 total podiums) thanks to his pair of winner’s trophies from this round.

Haslam overcame an injury to his left hand after his Saturday crash to secure two strong finishes – despite a lack of strength and stamina in his hand and an eventually overworked left arm and shoulder. Fifth and sixth places maintained Haslam’s top five position overall.

In the championship points Rea has 433, Bautista 352, Alex Lowes 220, Michael van der Mark 215, Haslam 202 and Razgatlioglu 191.

After the very long summer break – in WorldSBK action at least – the tenth round of the championship will be held at Portimao between 6 and 8 September. Before that Rea, Haslam and Razgatlioglu will compete at the Suzuka 8 Hours race and then there will be an official WorldSBK test for all at Portimao in late August.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I would never have believed you if you told me I would come here and set a new lap record, win two races and take the overall, so it has been a great weekend. We made a very small change to the bike between the Superpole race and Race Two. My feeling was completely different, which we did not expect. There was a lot of front movement, whereas all weekend before that we had been strong with the front. I had a few small warnings, just enough for me to roll it back a bit, think about finishing and we got it done. I am just super-satisfied with this weekend and I did the best I could in race two. I am looking forward to the summer break now.”

Leon Haslam, stated: “I felt we had good pace today and we were there for that podium pace. I could catch Tom Sykes and Alex quite comfortably but in the end I just struggled with myself, not the bike. Especially braking into left hand corners – and there are a fair few of them here. I was disappointed with the crash yesterday and I have suffered all day today with my wrist and the pain transferred into my shoulder because I was not riding as freely. I can’t be too unhappy as it was my mistake when we crashed in Race One, but we have had a fifth and sixth today and were not far off the podium pace.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) had another strong weekend in WorldSBK, scoring fourth in the Tissot Superpole race and then going third in Race Two, adding to his Race One podium ride on Saturday.

Toprak Razgatlioglu, stated: “I was fourth in the Tissot-Superpole race and then in the long race I had a good feeling with the bike. I tried again to follow the leading riders but it was not possible. In the last ten laps the rear traction dropped but I am really happy to have scored a second podium at Laguna Seca. Now the Suzuka 8 Hours and then a holiday!”

Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) had his best weekend of the entire season in the USA, ending it with an eighth place in each Sunday race. He is 12th overall, but only three points from a top ten ranking.

Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) ended the first part of the season 15th in the overall standings after a ninth and then an 11th place finish on Sunday.

2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics

Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2019: Races 25, Wins 9, Podiums 22, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 80 (65 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 156 (114 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 20 (16 for Kawasaki)

Leon Haslam:
2019: Races: 25, Wins 0, Podiums 6, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 45 (7 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 3 (0 for Kawasaki)

6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
4 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)

Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics:
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 136 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 415 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 85 – second overall

#NinjaSpirit

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