Team Suzuki Press Office – August 8.
Yoshimura SERT Motul: Suzuki GSX-R1000R – 3rd.
The Yoshimura Suzuki Endurance Racing Team Motul pulled off a remarkable feat at the Suzuka 8-Hours by finishing third, despite having only two riders and starting from 22nd on the grid. This accomplishment enabled the team to consolidate its position as FIM Endurance World Championship leader.
The reigning world championship team started from 22nd position on the grid after a very difficult qualifying session, however, the entire team had high hopes for the race. At the drop of the flag, Gregg Black made the most of his experience by making an exceptional start, immediately moving up 15 places.
A crash at the beginning of the race called for the intervention of the safety car for seven laps. When the race resumed, the Suzuki GSX-R1000R, continued to climb in the standings and the team momentarily took the lead in the provisional rankings.
When Kazuki Watanabe took over from Black, the team was in a solid fourth place. Drawing on his knowledge of the Suzuka circuit, the Japanese rider maintained a very fast pace and kept the team towards the front.
The Suzuki GSX-R1000R with Bridgestone tyres was superbly prepared for the 8-hour event, and the support crew performed super-fast pit stops throughout the race. Although they were missing their third teammate in the physically demanding race, Black and Watanabe maintained their speed and control and were in third place at the halfway point. Despite suffocating heat and fatigue, the two riders remained focused.
With just one hour to go, the team was in a strong fourth and perfectly positioned to take advantage of a mistake made by its main championship rival. A superb performance rewarded Yoshimura SERT Motul with third place on the finish line of the 2022 EWC Suzuka 8-Hours.
The Suzuki GSX-R1000R-mounted S-Pulse Dream Racing team of Hideyuki Ogata, Atsumi Cocoro and Takuya Tsuda also rode brilliantly to finish fourth overall in the race.
Yoshimura SERT Motul has consolidated its position as leader of the FIM EWC championship. It will start the Bol d’Or, final round of the 2022 season scheduled for the 17th and 18th of September, at the Paul Ricard circuit in France, with a tally of 127 championship points and a lead of 23 points over its main rival.
Damien Saulnier – Team Manager:
“It was a complicated week and a crazy race. Finishing in third position is not a victory, but it felt like it. I am really proud of the whole technical team and the riders who did a great job in really difficult conditions. With only two riders, it was not possible to compete with the leaders of the race, but we had to ensure a good score. The contract was fulfilled.”
Yohei Kato – Team Director:
“This podium is like a victory for us. We started 22nd and finished third, it’s incredible. This result is even better than what we expected. On top of that we have increased our lead in the championship. After Gregg’s great start, we stayed calm and followed our roadmap to avoid making any mistakes. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
“What an incredible race with a result that was a bit unexpected given the conditions. I came here as a team leader. I finally took part in the practice and the race. We were originally aiming for victory, but the withdrawal of Xavier and Sylvain forced us to change our plans. The goal was to save as many points as possible. From the beginning of the race, it went well for us. The two leading machines had a very high pace, but these teams are not competing for the championship. Their goals are different from ours. It is always difficult to fight against them on a regular basis but we defended ourselves well. We also took advantage of a race in the last hour. This third place is a very good result because the race was physical, and it was complicated to stay focused until the end. The team and the bike were perfect here. In endurance racing, you have to believe in yourself and not give up. That’s what we did and the result proves that.”
“As we were only two riders, we knew it would be very hard. But Gregg and the team did a very good job, I’m extremely satisfied with this podium. It’s incredible starting from so far back. It’s also very positive for the championship because we take big points. Thanks to everyone who supported us.”