Yamaha factory racing team comprising of Pol Espargaro, Alex Lowes and Katsuyuki Nakasuga clinched their second successive Suzuka 8h victory, successfully defending it for only the second time ever after 1988. It was 2015 all over again in the race weekend, with Yamahas radical YZF-R1 dominating the proceedings throughout the weekend. After topping practices and pre-qualifying, Pol Espargaro dug deep to clinch pole position with a 2:06.258, 2 tenths faster than Josh Brookes on the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000. Team Green’s Leon Haslam missed it by 0.064 seconds onboard the Kawasaki ZX-10R. It all came down to the initial hours of the event, Nakasuga onboard the Polesitting Yamaha getting bogged down to 4 th after a poor start.
He then started off to set his own pace as he overtook the Yoshimura Suzuki, the HARC Pro Honda and the Kawasaki in quick succession to clinch second place and on the tail of Yoshimura Suzuki’s Ryuichi Kiyonari. After a hard fought battle, Nakasuga pulled it off at the final chicane and made it stick, his pace set the Yamaha 9 seconds ahead of the field by the end of Hour 1.
Hour 2 saw the #21 machine extend its lead to over a minute, and the HARC- Pro Honda machine of Takumi Takahashi and Nicky Hayden blew its clutch while in second place. Disaster for the Toho racing Honda too as one of the riders crashed out and the team fell from 4 th to 45 th place. Ratthapark Wilairot and Gino Rea had to work overtime to finish in a sensational 11 th position despite the setback.
Meanwhile Pol Espargaro and Alex Lowes continued to set a breathtaking pace at the front, putting the #21 a complete lap ahead of the rest of the competition before the pitstop for New tires and fuel. Alex Lowes brought home victory by going out on his final stint and holding off Team Green’s charge of Leon Haslam.
Whilst the #21 Yamaha enjoyed the clear track in front of it, the #7 YART R1 and the #94 GMT94 R1 had setbacks. After a poor start, the YART machine finished in 4 th place, 4 laps down on the winners whereas GMT94s R1 with Niccolo Canepa, David Checa and Lucas Mahias finished 14 th overall.