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 washed-out today’s planned Top-10 Trial at Suzuka Circuit in Japan ahead of tomorrow’s final round of the 2018-2019 Endurance World Championship, the 42nd running of the historic race.
As the morning’s separate four hour race was taking place in atrocious conditions, Suzuki and other manufacturers and shops had various events taking place behind the grandstand, which forced their cancellation last year due to another typhoon, but today all went ahead with a huge amount of support from hundreds of fans at the Suzuki booth, where all the major teams and riders attended.
And despite the heavy rain, the Suzuki booth had on display the new KATANA, the GSX-R1000R and Alex Rins’ Team SUZUKI ECSTAR MotoGP GSX-RR machine for Suzuki fans to sit on and take photos.
From 9:50am, some of the main Suzuki teams came on stage welcomed by ex-Suzuki factory rider Keiichi Kitagawa as event MC to talk about their ambitions for tomorrow’s series finale; in what is expected to be one of the most thrilling in the 42-year history of the event.
#95 S-PULSE DREAM RACING·IAI rider Tommy Bridewell, now in his second year with the team, and currently second in the British Superbike Championship was joined by Buildbase Suzuki’s Bradley Ray – who rode for Yoshimura last year at Suzuka. Said Ray: “The bikes are very similar so there’s nothing to worry about. It would be great if we could beat Yoshimura! We aim to be the top Suzuki team”
Both riders also promised to fight hard for their injured team mate Ogata, who was forced out after a crash, Bridewell adding: “We’ll do our best and if that results a better position than last year, that’s a podium!”
All three riders from the #9 Motomap S.W.A.T team, Josh Waters, Dan Linfoot and Nobuatsu Aoki of were present with Team Manager Makoto Busujima.
“We are competing in the SST class again this year but both the tyres and suspension have changed. The bike is set up around the set that Josh uses in the Australian Superbike Championships” said Aoki, “But basically it’s a stock GSX-R and for the two riders to mark 2 minute 8 second laps is just amazing! This has proven the potential of the GSX-R”
However, how good the lap times are, it is still difficult to race under SST regulations: It doesn’t allow use of quick release devices on cycle parts so the tyre changing can take around 30 seconds while other EWC teams can do it in 10. A loss of 20 seconds at each pit stop is hard but the team aims not only to win the SST class but to finish in the overall top 10.
#71 TK SUZUKI BLUE MAX, with riders Gregory LeBlanc, Azlan Shah Kamaruzaman and Takuya Tsuda, are a multi-national team with Frenchman LeBlanc, Malaysian Azlan and Japanese Tsuda. “We met the first time on Tuesday” said Tsuda, because the originally planned rider Uramoto had priorities in the Spanish series he’s competing in and the other two joined the team at the last minute.
Azlan said: “It’s the first time I’m riding a Suzuki. It’s very fast and I’m happy with it. This year’s Suzuka happened all very suddenly but I’ll do my best”
LeBlanc said: “It’s an honour to ride for Kagayama-san’s team and I’ll make the best of this opportunity”
Next on stage was #12 YOSHIMURA SUZUKI MOTUL RACING, with Yoshimura president Fujio Yoshimura, riders Yukio Kagayama, Kazuki Watanabe and Sylvain Guintoli. Being the only team to participate in all of the 42 races in the history of Suzuka Eight Hours, Fujio Yoshimura announced the Yoshimura Spirit firmly. “We do this for the pleasure of beating the Factory Teams!” and a roar of applause rose from the crowd.
“Starting the testing in Sepang, we have prepared carefully for this event, and I feel we have proceeded even further this week and are at yet again a higher level. President Fumio rarely praises our work so I’m going to really try hard to gain approval from President Fumio!” said Kagayama.
Watanabe, who marked the top time in the team, commented he’ll do his best to contribute to the team while MotoGP test rider Guintoli said: “I feel the same DNA as a MotoGP bike in the Yoshimura GSX-R. Obviously it’s not the same but it’s very powerful and fast. It’s my third year with Yoshimura but I’ve been unlucky the past two. I hope we can do well this time around.”
Fujio Yoshimura added: “We are going to win it this year!” at the end of the stage and thanked the crowd for the support.
Last on the stage was #2 SUZUKI ENDURANCE RACING TEAM with riders Vincent Philippe, Etienne Masson, Gregg Black and Team Manager Dominique Méliand, who has been the manager of SERT for over 40 years and guided the team to 15 world titles. He has stated he will retire from his racing career after this race and said: “This is an emotional moment. I’ll do my best to be successful in this last race, for the team and for Suzuki.”
Philippe, who has been with the team for over 13 years, commented: “So many things happened over the years we’ve been together. It has not always been easy, but Dominique has always been close and was supportive. I can’t thank him enough.”
SERT is now only five points behind the Championship leader and has a strong chance to be World Champion again. The three riders are determined to race hard and make Dominique’s retirement perfect, crowned with another World Title.
The retirement ceremony will take place on the main course before the start of the race at 10:10am.
Suzuka 8 Hours Image Gallery (David Reygondeau and Goichi Honda): CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS
WATCH THE SUZUKA 8 HOURS LIVE
Viewers around the world can watch live coverage of the entire Suzuka 8 Hours, the 2018-2019 FIM EWC’s Grand Finale, on Sunday July 28th.
Full live coverage of the Suzuka 8 Hours, from the race start procedure to the podium ceremony, will be broadcast on Eurosport 2 from 4.15am to 1pm CEST. The 2018-2019 FIM EWC final will be shown in more than 60 countries and on Eurosport Player, with commentary in English and French.
Eurosport Events, the FIM EWC promoter, now releases coverage of the FIM Endurance World Championship races to more than 20 broadcasters around the globe.
Two new channels have been added to the list of networks offering international coverage of the FIM EWC. Motortrend in the United States, Canada, South America and Africa will show the entire race live on its digital platform. The Sky NZ channel will also provide full live coverage of the Suzuka 8 Hours in New Zealand.
Japanese fans can watch live coverage of the entire Suzuka 8 Hours on the digital platform Hulu as well as the Nippon TV group’s channels, G+, BS NTV and BS NTV2.
In France, sports channel L’Equipe will show live coverage from 8am to 12.45pm following a recap of the first few hours of the race.