Team Suzuki Press Office – August 18.
Brad Ray talks about the Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance World Championship final round in Japan, where he was invited to ride for the Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing team, along with the British Superbike Championship and his progress in passing his UK motorcycle test.
“It’s been a really busy few months and there’s been plenty going on. Possibly the biggest of this was preparing for and racing at the Suzuka 8-Hours. Making my debut there was one of the best experiences of my life to be honest. Going out to Japan for the first test was my first ever visit to Japan, so it was also great to see the people and experience a bit of the culture too.
“But racing the 8-Hours is something else. You know just from following it online or speaking to people that it’s a really big event, but until you go you just can’t imagine how big and how important it is. The atmosphere and passion is incredible, and the grandstands are packed. It was quite daunting really. But at the same time amazing to be involved with and be racing with such an iconic and professional team. The Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing team is a name synonymous with the Suzuka 8-Hours and some great riders have raced for them over the years.
“I had two great team-mates this year as well. Obviously Sylvain is an absolute professional and a great rider. You don’t get given a World Superbike Championship and MotoGP ride! We worked really well together on and off track to develop the bike for the race. It was also a great experience to have Takuya Tsuda as a team-mate. It presented a few challenges; we’re very different in size and have different riding styles, so things like bar position, footrest position, some of the setup was a bit of a compromise, but that’s endurance racing and it was great to work with him. He rides that bike a lot, obviously, in the Japanese Superbike Championship, so knows it inside and out.
“In BSB, we had a really strong start to the season but have just had a couple of problems to overcome in recent rounds: Last time out at Thruxton we had made some big improvements that helped me get the bike stopped and turned by improving engine mapping. We had a good weekend until it came to the racing and I made a mistake in race one after a poor start that meant I was in the pack and we had a small problem in race two. But since then we’ve had a really good test at Cadwell Park and spun a load of laps there, so have a good base-setting for the race this weekend.
“Cadwell Park a scary place on a Superbike. It’s still only my second year on the Buildbase Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike and around there the things come up really quickly and everything feels like it closes right in and the track gets really narrow. Experience counts for a lot I think but we’re working hard and hopefully we’ll have a good weekend.
“Away from the racing, I’ve also started the process of getting my UK Motorcycle Licence! I did my CBT on the new GSX-R125 and have managed to get out a couple of times. I also raced a GSX-S125s around a kart circuit with my teammates Richard Cooper and Billy McConnell, as well as Gino Rea, Davey Todd, and Tom Ward, which was a lot of fun. Watch the video if you haven’t already. I won’t tell who won!”