EWC: Yamaha Factory Racing Team make history with emphatic Suzuka 8 Hours victory
Suzuka, Japan, Jul 26th 2015 – In their sixtieth anniversary year, Yamaha Motor Corporation claimed a historic Suzuka 8 Hours win as the Yamaha Factory Racing Team of Pol Espargaro, Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Bradley Smith rode their YZF-R1 to victory, also giving Bridgestone its tenth consecutive victory as a tyre supplier at the ‘8Tai’.
The race took place in fully dry conditions with no rainy periods, but a number of incidents resulted in a total of six Safety Car phases; an unusually high number for the Suzuka 8 Hours. As a result, only a total of 204 laps were completed by the teams on the leading lap, even though the pace throughout this year’s race was exceptionally fast. The quickest lap of the race, a 2’08.496 was set by Yamaha Factory Racing Team’s Nakasuga on lap 6.
Finishing in second place at the 2015 Suzuka 8 Hours was F.C.C. TSR Honda who utilised just two of their three riders – Josh Hook and Dominique Aegerter – during the race and were the only other team to finish on the same lap as the race winners. As well as being fitted to the top two teams at this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours, a total of six out of the top ten teams in the race were equipped with Bridgestone tyres.
The consistently sunny conditions and high ambient temperature resulted in track temperatures reaching a scorching 61°C three hours into the race, before dropping to 38°C at the end of the eight hour contest. To ensure the riders could manage this large variance in track temperature with no loss of performance, Bridgestone developed a range of compounds using its MotoGP experience for the riders at this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours.
Bradley Smith-“Since Tuesday night I went back to my hotel room and felt loaded up with pressure. We stood in front of all the Yamaha staff and mister Kimura and everyone who works inside the factory. We stood on the stage in Iwata and promised that we would come back and give our best and we promised them a first place and we definitely to potentially fail, but we had a great bike and teammates. We had only one small mistake during the race, which in the end was no problem at all. With the speed and the pace that my teammates were able to do, we were able to overcome it. It’s very special, the 60th anniversary for Yamaha, they are leading the MotoGP championship, but second to that was a focus to on the Suzuka8H and I’m glad that we were able to show the true potential of this bike and give them that victory after 19 years that they very well deserve.”
Pol Espargarò-“I’m so happy. It was an unbelievable race. I have to say sorry to my teammates because I made a mistake during the race. We had a stop and go penalty and we lost more than one minute. My teammates were impressive, they were so fast. I gave 200% when I went out on the bike to recover this gap that we lost and we did. It’s impressive what Yamaha as a factory team and a family did after so many years and I’m proud of Nakasuga-san that he rode out the first Suzuka8hours with us and also of Bradley, that we share a pit box in MotoGP. Normally we have many activities and we don’t get to speak often as friends. This weekend was so good for us. I’m happy because I found two great friends, and we got the 8 hours Suzuka race victory.”
Katsuyuki Nakasuga- “As a team we started the race today with a set number of laps per rider and it was a lot of pressure for me to start the race but my first goal was that I had to finish this race. I’ve had times when I ended the race prematurely. I want to thank all the staff, the team and all the fans for their support. I’m really glad that we have won after nineteen years.”
Wataru Yoshikawa – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“I am very happy to have achieved Yamaha’s first Suzuka 8 Hours win in nineteen years and on behalf of the team, staff and riders I’d like to thanks Bridgestone for supporting us in this victory. This result is attributed to the cooperation between our team and Bridgestone to set up the bike and race strategy so that the tyre’s performance could be fully utilised. Once again, I am pleased to share this win with Bridgestone and hope we can continue to work together in future.”