25 years since the last Australian victory at the Suzuka 8 Hour
Josh Hook to replace Stefan Bradl on FCC TSR SP2
Alex Cudlin gets last minute call up to replace injured Schrotter on the #95 Suzuki
The Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours is made up of plenty of Australian talent this year, including; Jack Miller, Josh Hook, Damian Cudlin, Alex Cudlin, Broc Parkes, Josh Waters, Anthony West, Jamie Stauffer, Josh Brookes, Jason O’Halloran and Mark Aitchison. The race is the final round of the FIM Endurance World Championship (EWC) and takes place this weekend at the famous Suzuka International Racing Course in Japan.
The line-up of talented Australians is akin to the golden era of Australian 500cc GP dream teams consisting of Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, Darryl Beattie and Kevin Magee, all taking on the rest of the world in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
The last Australian victory was an all-Aussie affair when Wayne Gardner and Daryl Beattie teamed up to take victory in 1992 on a Honda RVF750.
Suzuka 8 Hours – Australian Victories
Tony Hatton and Michael Cole (CB900) 1979
Wayne Gardner with Masaki Tokuno (RVF750) 1985
Wayne Gardner with Dominique Sarron (RVF750) 1986
Kevin Magee with Martin Wimmer (YZF750) 1987
Kevin Magee with Wayne Rainey (YZF750) 1988
Mick Doohan and Wayne Gardner (RVF750) 1991
Wayne Gardner and Daryl Beattie (RVF750) 1992
The Suzuka 8 Hours is Japan’s most famous motorcycle race and there’s always plenty of pride at stake, especially between the Japanese manufacturers. The big four (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki) throw everything they have to win the race. Some in the Japanese motorcycle industry hold the race in higher regard than MotoGP and the World Superbike Championship. The race regularly generates crowds in excess of 100,000 people.
The Suzuka 8 Hours is one of the most gruelling endurance races in the world. With hot temperatures, a demanding track and very talented opposition, the race is a true test of rider skill and teamwork.
Honda have dominated the race in the past, with 27 wins to its name. However, Yamaha have taken the fight to Honda in recent years, winning the last two bouts.
However, in testing earlier this month it was SP2 Fireblades that led the way, the fastest of which was on Pirelli rubber, a major turn up for the books after the more recent Bridgestone domination of the prestigious event.
The YART Yamaha Official EWC Team fields Broc Parkes throughout the World Endurance Championship season and the 35-year-old is keen for success. Parkes and YART are currently ranked third in the Endurance World Championships standings.
“We had a very good three days of testing. From the first test to today we improved the package and made the bike really comfortable, so we feel really positive. We did a race run and the lap times were very consistent, and actually quite good on average I think compared to the other teams. That’s because of Kohta and my experience here, which was also good because we could help Marvin since it’s his first time here. I think now we can be happy and pretty much come to the race with confidence.”
Aussie MotoGP ace, Jack Miler is part of Honda’s grand plan to win the race once again with the Factory Musashi Harc-Pro Honda team, on a CBR1000RR SP2.
Jack Miller is very pleased to have a dream come true
“I’m excited to be racing for the first time at the Suzuka 8 hours race with a highly competitive Honda team. Endurance races are different to other road races, and this will be a great opportunity for me. I’ll be aiming for the top of the podium, battling a tough race, along with a very talented, competitive team,” Miller concluded.
Australian World Endurance specialist Alex Cudlin was scheduled to race with his regular Suzuki Endurance Racing Team. The SERT outfit is chasing a top result at Suzuka to consolidate their current lead in the World Endurance Championship. They are currently only one point ahead of the GMT94 Yamaha squad with it all to play for in this weekend’s championship finale. However, Suzuki have drafted in young All Japan Superbike rider Sodo Hamahara to join reguler incumbents Vincent Philippe and Etienne Masson aboard the SERT GSX-R1000, the idea that the local rider has much better knowledge of the Suzuka Circuit.
We are happy to report that Alex has now secured a seat on the #95 Suzuki entry replaced the injured Marcel Schrotter.
Former Suzuka podium finisher and multiple Australian Superbike Championship winner Josh Waters is on the grid with MotoMap Supply Suzuki.
Josh Hook was on the podium at Suzuka in 2015 with FCC TSR, and a last minute change has seen Hook drafted into the squad for 2017 alongside Dominique Aegerter and Randy De Puniet. Hook tasted podium success at Suzuka with FCC TSR in 2015.
Hook had been slated to ride with Team Sup Dream Honda before the last minute switch to the Factory backed FCC TSR squad, but his position at Dream Honda has now been taken up by Damian Cudlin, who will ride alongside Frenchman Gregg Black and Japanese race legend Shinichi Ito.
Stefan Bradl has been slated for that factory seat, but an inner ear infection has meant the German World Superbike rider was advised by medical staff not to make the flight to Japan after he suffered further complications.
Mark Aitchison will line up for JP DFR & RS-ITOH Kawasaki.
Former Australian Superbike Champion Jamie Stauffer will make a return to racing with the Honda Dream RT Sakurai Team alongside fellow Australian Jason O’Halloran.
Josh Brookes will race with the Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing Team. Next month Brookes will contest the Thruxton and Cadwell Park BSB rounds in his quest to regain the British Superbike #1 plate before the ‘can ride anything’ journeyman then races a Rotary Norton at the Classic TT.
Anthony West will race in the Superstock class at the Suzuka 8 Hour with the Keno Speed Yamaha Team.
Not all Australian riders got to participate in the test earlier this month, where Ryuichi Anthony set the hot pace on the Moriwaki Honda SP2 Fireblade. Bridgestone have long dominated the Suzuka 8 Hour but Kiyonari and teammates Yuki Takahashi and Dan Linfoot set that testing benchmark on Pirelli rubber.
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