EWC: Brookes confirmed for Honda&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;#039;s Suzuka 8-Hour effort
Honda will support three private teams with HRC factory machinery at this year’s Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours World Endurance Championship race, one of the world’s most prestigious motorcycle racing events.
Honda has an illustrious record in this gruelling high-speed epic, once likened to “eight Grand Prix races in one day”, having one 22 victories in the 31 races staged since 1978. This year Honda goes for its 12th 8 Hours victory in 13 years and its fifth success with its CBR1000RR machine.
Current 8 Hours favourite is the F.C.C TSR Honda team of Kosuke Akiyoshi (34-years-old) and veteran Shinichi Ito (42) who recently won the Suzuka 300km race, the 8 Hours prologue event known as “the road to 8 Hours”. The team and both its riders have winning form at the 8 Hours, Ito having won the race on three occasions (1997, 1998 and 2006) and Akiyoshi having triumphed in 2007. Only two men have won more 8 hours than multiple Japanese champion Ito: former 500 World Champion Wayne Gardner (four victories) and MotoGP and 250 GP winner Tohru Ukawa (five victories).
Suzuka specialist Ito said: “At the last test before the Suzuka 8 Hours we made three long-runs, also the final check. For the machine, we have some more work to do before the Suzuka 8 Hours starts, but there is no problem with my physical condition, I am ready for the long race. By riding at the test I was able to find my race rhythm, and I am excited to be riding with Akiyoshi. We won’t let our chance to win this Suzuka 8 Hours slip away!”
Akiyoshi recently topped a recent pre-race Suzuka test day, followed by Tatsuya Yamaguchi (33) who will ride the second of the HRC CBR1000RR machines at the 8 Hour, alongside Musashi RT HARC-PRO team-mate Yoshiteru Konishi (39). Yamaguchi and Konishi have also showed their potential by finishing a hard-fought second in the 300km.
Third of the HRC CB1000RR 8 Hours teams will the Honda DREAM Racing Team Sakurai Honda pairing of Chojun Kameya (32) and Australian Josh Brookes (26). Kameya finished fifth in the 300km race, riding the two hours all alone! The Honda DREAM Racing Sakurai team is the only one of the three HRC-supported squads to use Dunlop tyres; the other two will use Bridgestone’s.
Honda won its first 8 Hours success in 1979, when Australians Tony Hatton and Michael Cole took victory on a CB900. Derivatives of the inline-four machine won a further two 8 Hours before the marque’s first win with its new generation of V4 machines in 1984, when Americans Mike Baldwin and Fred Merkel triumphed on an RS750R.
Honda V4s essentially ruled the 8 Hours for a decade and a half, taking 11 wins from 16 events. After the RS750R’s success, the legendary RVF750 F1 machine achieved five wins (with riders including Gardner, Mick Doohan and Dominique Sarron) and then the RC45 Superbike took another five (with riders including Aaron Slight, Doug Polen, Tadayuki Okada, Ukawa and Ito).
The next bike to rule the 8 Hours was Honda’s VTR1000SPW V-twin Superbike which won four straight wins from 2000 to 2003 (with riders including Ukawa, Daijiro Kato, Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi).
The inline-four CB1000RR won its first 8 Hours in 2004, with Ukawa and Hitoyasu Izutsu onboard, tracing Honda’s inline-four lineage back to its first 8 Hours win with the CB900.
This year’s Suzuka 8 Hours is the fourth round of the six-race Q-Tel FIM Endurance World Championship.Until the End of the World buy