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Suzuka 8-Hour - Yoshimura Suzuki finished 2nd [29-07-13 10:45 by staff] 

Yoshimura Suzuki's Takuya Tsuda, Nobu Aoki and Josh Brookes finished second in the Suzuka 8-Hour World Endurance Championship race in Japan on Sunday, despite a crash and a 30-second time penalty; as Team Kagayama - former World 500cc GP Champion Kevin Schwantz, Nori Haga and Yukio Kagayama - put its GSX-R1000 on the third step of the podium.

And making it three Suzuki GSX-R1000s in the top four of Japan's most-prestigious motorcycle event - won by Musashi RT HARC PRO's Takumi Takahashi, Leon Haslam and young 20-year-old Dutchman Michael van der Mark - was reigning World Endurance Champions Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (SERT) with Vincent Philippe, Anthony Delhalle and Julien Da Costa taking the championship lead after two rounds.

Yoshimura Suzuki finished on the same 214th lap as the winners and also set the second-fastest race lap-time of 2'09.144. The fastest race lap of 2'08.827 was set by FCC TSR Honda's Ryuichi Kiyonari, who crashed just before the half-way stage.

Team Kagayama finished-up just one lap behind on 213, with SERT on 213, Yamaha France GMT94 on 212 and Honda Team Asia on 211 laps.

A huge crowd of 61,000 flocked into the circuit at Suzuka to see Japan's finest riders mix-it with some of the top riders from World Endurance, World Superbike and domestic championships, plus Suzuki's 1993 World 500cc GP Champion Schwantz, who proved, at the age of 49, he can still put-in fast and consistent lap-times.

Yoshimura Suzuki's Tsuda, who started from second place on the grid, took the lead from the start from pole-setter Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Monster Energy YART) in the 36th Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8-Hours race; and set the early pace until Nakasuga took over; and then Musashi's first rider on track, Takahashi, shortly afterwards.

After the first hour, Yoshimura Suzuki held third position with Team Kagayama fourth and SERT seventh. Three hours in, Team Kagayama moved into second position as Aoki was given a stop-go penalty for allegedly infringing pit-lane speed; and then Brookes suffered a get-off. But the Australian held onto the bike, kept it running while picking it up ; and finished his full stint (one of four) - a move that earned him even more respect from the team and his new team-mates.
Yoshimura then fought its way back into second place ahead of Team Kagayama at the four-hour stage ; a position the team held until the flag; and as the rain started to fall and darkness closed-in, Yoshimura Suzuki stayed-out on track with its original tyres and chose not to 'Pit' to change to Wets - as several other teams chose to.

Takuya Tsuda:

"I went into the race as a first rider and I know this first hour is very important for the result. Luckily I grabbed the holeshot but I was passed by Takumi Takahashi after about 40 minutes. Our bike, developed by Nobu Aoki mainly and myself with set-ups, was good and the Bridgestone tyres were also good, but I couldn't use the hard tyre for high track temperatures. I feel very frustrated to not able to win, but I also feel happy to be in second place for our team and our staff. I understand my weak points from the race and I would like to be a faster rider and return to the Suzuka 8-Hour next year!"

Nobuatsu Aoki:

"I am very sorry that I was given a penalty for speeding in the pit-lane. It gave Takuya and Josh a lot of pressure. When I jumped onto the bike, I didn't touch the speed limiter switch. It is stupid mistake! Especially for Josh, who managed to catch-up with the front runners again and was pushing hard, which is maybe why he crashed."

Josh Brookes:

"It's a great feeling, but I'm a little disappointing for my mistake in the race, because I know the Suzuka 8 Hours is great race and very important in all aspects for the manufacturers, sponsors and fans. When I crashed, I didn't let-go of the handlebars; I was dragged by the bike. It was like a trophy you don't want to let go of! I tried so hard, it is a great honour to be here as part of the team; and I'd like to come back again. Thank you to everyone at Yoshimura for this. The bike was perfect and I know we could have won had it not been for a mistake."

Yukio Kagayama:

"I am very happy for we got on the podium! The Dunlop tyres worked perfectly and the Suzuki GSX-R1000, powered by the Yoshimura engine, gave an awesome performance. Plus, our team-staff made no mistakes in endurance pit-work. Our team was supported by many small sponsors, so I really appreciate them and would like to thank them. I'm very happy to have Kevin-san on the podium and Nori has supported me a great deal! I think so many people came to Suzuka because of Kevin and that Nori was riding our Suzuki. I hope that Suzuki, Honda Yamaha and Kawasaki - all manufacturers - put power into motorsports again like in the 1990's. It feels unbelievable to be on the podium with my hero Kevin Schwantz!"

Kevin Schwantz:

"I know this race is not easy to win. But this time Yukio made a very good team. This was the only condition that I asked of him coming to Japan to enter this race again. He has changed his Japanese Superbike team to a World Endurance top contender. Yukio's effort was great! I tested so many tyres and set-ups for bike and we found a lot of potential. In the race, I only did one stint but I really enjoyed racing with the young Japanese riders. We got third place for the race and thank you to every one of our team staff. Yukio said to me 'You are my idol!,' but I would like to say to Yukio ' You are a Superstar!"

Suzuka 8-Hour Result : 1 Musashi RT HARC-PRO (Honda) Takahashi/ Haslam/ van der Mark - 214 laps, 2 Yoshimura Suzuki (Suzuki GSX-R1000) Takuya Tsuda/ Nobu Aoki/ Josh Brookes - 214 (-1'51.996 secs), 3 Team Kagayama (Suzuki GSX-R1000) Yukio Kagayama/ Kevin Schwantz/ Nori Haga - 213, 4 SERT (Suzuki GSX-R1000) Vincent Philippe/ Anthony Delhalle/ Julien Da Costa - 213, 5 Yamaha France GMT94 (Yamaha) Checa/ Foray/ Lagrive - 212, 6 Honda Team Asia (Honda) Tamada/ Shah/ Kamaruzman/ Takahashi - 211, 7 TOHO Racing with Moriwaki (Honda) Yamaguchi/ Ito/ Watanabe - 211, 8 Monster Energy YART (Yamaha) Nakasuga/ Parkes/ Waters - 210, 9 Honda Kumamoto Racing (Honda) Yoshida/ Kojima/ Tokudome - 208, 10 Team R2CL (Suzuki GSX-R1000) Gwen Giabbani/ Masahiro Shinjo/ Dylan Buisson - 207.

::Team Suzuki - Press Release::

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