The eight hours of Suzuka, the big one, is a challenge that intimidates even the fiercest riders and makes for the perfect finale for this years EWC Championship.
For the 8 hours of Suzuka, the challenge is always twofold. First of all, there are the conditions which at this time of year are very hot and very humid and demand a lot from the riders and then there’s the track itself. With a length of 5,8km’s and combining fast and technical curves culminating in a figure of eight, it’s one of the longest and most demanding on the calendar.
On top of that, and mostly due to the significance of this race, a lot of factory teams not competing in a full season of the EWC make the effort to contest this 8-hour battle. Also for regular teams, the race in Suzuka is one of the most important. Not just because it’s the season finale but mostly because at the end of the race there are 150% of the regular points to score which could effectively change the outcome of the championship.
This year's event, however, added another challenge. A Typhoon was to strike the Suzuka area during the race weekend and it did. The night before the race torrential rainfall and wind up to 170km/h caused significant damage to the infrastructures at the track but an impressive tour de force from the staff and crews at the track made sure everything was repaired and at 11:30 local time the green flag dropped.
The eight-hour endurance battle which was to end at nightfall was riddled with rain showers followed by a quickly drying track because of the high temperatures. This meant a lot of riders got into trouble by the weather getting caught out in the rain while riding on slick tires. After six hours of racing, no one knew who had the upper hand. Team Honda, Kawasaki Team green, and the Yamaha Factory Racing team were constantly dicing for the lead. When night fell and the chequered flag was waved it was the Yamaha team that came out on top for the fourth consecutive time confirming their place as kings of Suzuka.