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The Suzuka 8 Hours

Kiyonari and Checa win Suzuka 8 Hours for Dream Honda Racing Team

The DREAM Honda Racing Team duo of Ryuichi Kiyonari and Carlos Checa  raced their CBR1000RR Honda to a superbly judged victory in the 31st  running of the Suzuka 8 Hours held today at the classic Japanese  circuit of the same name. The race win restored damaged pride following  defeat at the hands of the Yoshimura #34 in the race last year that  ended Honda 10 year winning streak. The 2008 race saw the two teams  start the grueling 8 hour race as joint favourites along with the TSR  FCC CBR1000RR of Shinichi Ito and Takeshi Tsujimura.

Ryuichi Kiyonari was the lead off rider for #11 and, as he promised,  the reigning British Superbike Champion made a good start from third on  the grid his CBR1000RR glued to the rear wheel of Kagayama on the #34  Yoshimura machine. The two swapped place twice on the opening lap but  Kiyo surged into the lead along the start finish straight at the end of  the lap. Daisaku Sakai held third place aboard the #12 Yoshimura he was  sharing with Atsushi Watanabe.

From that point on Kiyo raced to the first rider change over  unchallenged handing team mate Carlos Checa a clear lead. The Spaniard  kept the pressure on his rivals with a fast consistent pace leading by  30 seconds from the TSR FCC CBR1000RR #2 machine of pole sitters Ito  and Tsujimura, at the second refueling stop. The #2 team had fought  their way into contention after a bad start left them down in sixth  place at the end of lap one. Akiyoshi on the #34 held third place a  further 30 seconds adrift. The #33 in the hands of Johnny Rae went down  at the Degner Curve on lap 21 when Rae clipped the rear end of a  back-marker. He remounted to limp back to the pits for repairs and team  mate Yuki Takahashi took to the track and quickly settled into a fast  rhythm the #33 regaining much of the ground lost.

Ito crashed the #2 in the third hour but managed to get back to the  pits but the machine was too badly damaged to continue. His demise  leaving Kiyonari well clear of the two Yoshimura machines and the #33  Dream Honda of Rae and Yuki Takahashi. Kameya crashed the Sakurai Honda  and limped back to the pits for repairs.

The fourth hour provided real drama as a heavy rain shower soaked a  part of the circuit making conditions very difficult to judge for 20  long minutes. Kagayama put in a big charge and caught and passed Checa  but two laps later crashed the #34 at the first turn. He remounted  still holding second place and completed his stint. The DREAM team pit  crew signaled Checa and Takahashi to come into the pits for rain tyres  but both riders stayed out on track as conditions improved.

The #11 pairing was now almost one lap ahead of the two Yoshimura  machines with the #33 DREAM Honda fourth having inherited the place  following Ito’s crash.

While Kiyo and Carlos steamed away at the front in the fifth hour  Akiyoshi crashed the #34 trying to close the ever increasing gap to the  race leaders. The race ended for the #33 DREAM Honda when Rae crashed  at the Spoon Curve demolishing the CBR1000RR. The accidents promoted  the hard charging Harc Pro Honda pairing of Yoshiteru Konishi and  Takumi Takahashi up to third place where they would remain until the  finish.

Kiyonari and Checa continued to build on their one lap lead as the  raced to victory despite Checa being handed a stop and go penalty for  speeding in the pit lane that cost them 30 seconds. The last hour gave  the team cause for concern when Kiyo suffered a front brake problem  which gave Checa a few anxious moments on his way to securing a superb  victory for the DREAM Honda CBR1000RR. The team had hoped to run 217  laps but the rain put that beyond them finishing with 214 laps in 8  hours 20.726 seconds.

The #12 Yoshimura machine of Sakai and Watanabe finished second one  minute 20 seconds behind the Honda with Konishi and Takuma Takahashi  third for Harc Pro Honda four laps adrift of the victorious #11.

The victory was sweet revenge for both Checa and Kiyonari as both men  had previously suffered the pain of defeat in the grueling race, Checa  finished second last year with Kiyonari the victim of cruel  circumstances while front running on two previous attempts.

Akiyoshi and Kagayama battled home in fourth place five laps down just  ahead of the Yamaha of Sato, Nakasuga and Takeda. The Moriwaki  CBR1000RRof Yamaguchi, Crutchlow and O’Halloran finished sixth. Chojun  Kameya and Leon Haslam staged a rapid comeback from Kameya’s crash and  were rewarded with a fine ninth place for Sakurai Honda one lap ahead  of team mates Kazuma Tsuda and Josh Brookes in tenth.

Quotes from Honda riders and team staff:

Ryuichi Kiyonari, DREAM Honda: Race winner.
“I was really nervous during the last hour watching Carlos riding.  Already front brake problem was there during my last stint. I was  scared to watch sparks when Carlos braked. I am so happy that I won  today. From last year’s lesson, I was in the lead when back markers  appeared. I was so happy because my machine was so fast. When I passed  Yoshimura at the main straight, I was saying “Sorry!”. When it started  to rain, Carlos was cautious so I was not worried at all.”

Carlos Checa, DREAM Honda: Race winner.
“ Usually, when you have a big margin like today, you can relax more.  But today, I had no front brake during my last stint. I only had engine  brake and rear brake so I was really nervous. When it started to rain,  the team showed me “Pit In” signal, but I decided not to come in. When  Kagayama passed me, I thought “He is going too fast”. I decided to ride  with my own rhythm. One of the reasons for our win was this and also  Kiyo did a good job during his first stint. I am now thirty five years  old so I don’t know whether I have another chance or not, but if I can  race again next year, I want to win again.”

Norihisa Matsuura - #11 Team Manager
“I let Checa to decide whether to come in and change the tyres or not,  when it was raining. We were prepared to every situation. Checa’s  decision was correct. Both the riders did a good job. But I was  surprised by the pit lane speed limit violation.”

Teruaki Matsubara – Suzuka 8 hrs Project Leader.
:”Both riders did superb job. Checa rode consistently in the rain and  Kiyonari was riding very aggressive throughout. I want to thank  Kiyonari and Checa.”

Jonathan Rea, DREAM Honda: Dnf – 134 laps.
“ I crashed just before I was coming into the pit. I was pushing hard  at the spoon curve and suddenly front wheel tucked. I am very  disappointed and it was bad for the team. Today, both Yuki and I  crashed during the first ride. Yuki was riding very good under the  difficult rainy condition. We were third and I wanted to get on the  podium desperately. The team and I worked so hard for this race so I am  very much disappointed not to finish it.”

Yuki Takahashi, DREAM Honda: – Dnf 134 laps.
“We worked very hard during the weekend to get the best set-up and we  were feeling good for the race. Today, first Johnny crashed and I  crashed during my first stint because I wanted to make up for it. We  tried very hard to reach the third place so I was shocked to see  Johnny’s crash. Still Johnny didn’t get hurt so that is the best thing.  I experienced that kind of rainy condition many times this year in GPs  so I knew I was OK. I had good influence from Johnny and also I got  good experience riding a factory endurance machine. If I have a chance  again next year, I will use this experience.”

Tetsuo Kinoe - #33 Team Manager
“Both the riders have high skill and did a good job although we didn’t  have much preparation time. Yuki did a good job in the rain and made up  to the third place. Johnny was trying so hard to keep the podium  position. I wanted them to be on the podium so I feel sorry for them.  Anyway, I want to make revenge next year.

Teruaki Matsubara – Suzuka 8 hrs Project Leader
#33 riders  were riding aggressively. They were trying to make up for the crashes  which occurred during the early stages and that was the reason Johnny  had crashed.

Yoshiteru Konishi, team HARC-PRO: 3rd
“Yasuda crashed on Friday so Takahashi replaced him. Yasuda did all the  set-up of the machine. This year, top teams were so fast that we  thought it was difficult for us to get on the podium. Takahashi did a  good job riding consistently in the rain. The reason why I rode during  the night is Takahashi had never ridden in night race. We also tried to  reduce pit stop time. I am quite satisfied about finishing third.”

Takumi Takahashi, team HARC-PRO: 3rd
“I thought I would have no chance this year as I was the third rider. I  tried not to hurt the team’s effort. I passed the bike to Konishi san  while I was lying third. This was my first 8 hr race but it was very  exciting and I would like to try again in the future if I have a  chance.”

Tatsuya Yamaguchi, MORIWAKI MOTUL Racing: 6th
“We had some tyre troubles and made eleven pit stops. If we didn’t have  any trouble, we could have finished third. I really feel sorry about  it. My team is doing so well so I want to win races for the All Japan  Championship rounds.”

Chojun Kameya, TEAM SAKURAI Honda: 9th
My bike stole at the start so I had to catch up from 22nd. Then I  crashed during my second stint. Track temperature was higher than we  though and was tough for the tyres. I will make revenge during the All  Japan Championship races.”

Leon Haslam, TEAM SAKURAI Honda: 9th
“We were almost there to challenge for the podium till the middle of  the race. But unfortunately Kameya san crashed. But he rode very hard  to make up and that was the main reason we could finish 9th. This was  my first 8 hr race and it was a great experience. If I have a chance  again, I want to try next year.”

Kazuma Tsuda, TEAM SAKURAI Honda: 10th.
“I was riding very good during this weekend but crashed during the TOP  10 TRIAL and broke right leg so I couldn’t ride smoothly today. Josh  tried very hard today. I hope I can get better by the next All Japan  Championship race.”

Josh Brookes, TEAM SAKURAI Honda: 10th.
“Today I made two mistakes but we were eighth place when we had exhaust  problem. So we finished tenth. I want to take part in this race riding  a factory bike.”

Shinichi Ito, F.C.C. TSR Honda: Dnf.
“ I was trying to pass a slow rider from outside and made a mistake.  Today was very hot and tough. #11 was very fast and I tried to follow  them but today they were faster. I feel sorry for the team because I  couldn’t use this opportunity. I will concentrate on the All Japan  Championship races from now on.”

Takeshi Tsujimura, F.C.C. TSR Honda: Dnf.
“I couldn’t get a perfect set-up during the pre-event testing and that  may have given pressure to Ito san. I thought I can ride well today but  was sorry to see Ito san crashing. I will try my best during the All  Japan Championship races using the experiences I gained during this  weekend.”


Pos. Team Type Laps Total Time Delay Best Riders
1 DREAM Honda Racing Team 11 H-CBR1000RR 214 8:00'20.726 155.60km/h 2'08.428 R.KIYONARI C.CHECA  
2 YOSHIMURA SUZUKI with DENSO IRIDIUM POWER S-GSX-R1000 214 8:01'39.626 1'18.900 2'08.416 D.SAKAI A.WATANABE
3 team HARC-PRO. H-CBR1000RR 210 8:02'16.360 4Laps 2'11.265 Y.KONISHI T.TAKAHASHI
4 YOSHIMURA SUZUKI with JOMO S-GSX-R1000 209 8:00'26.157 5Laps 2'08.417 K.AKIYOSHI Y.KAGAYAMA
5 YAMAHA RACING Y-YZF-R1 209 8:00'56.222 5Laps 2'10.937 Y.SATO K.NAKASUGA Y.TAKEDA
7 PLOT FARO PANTHERA S-GSX-R1000 207 8:01'54.467 7Laps 2'12.652 Y.KONNO K.TERAMOTO
8 MotoMap SUPPLY S-GSX-R1000 205 8:02'19.802 9Laps 2'12.816 Y.HATANO H.OGATA T.NAMEKATA
9 Team SAKURAI HONDA 10 H-CBR1000RR 205 8:02'30.445 9Laps 2'11.670 C.KAMEYA L.HASLAM
10 Team SAKURAI HONDA 71 H-CBR1000RR 204 8:00'36.960 10Laps 2'12.778 K.TSUDA J.BROOKES
11 YAMAHA AUSTRIA RACING TEAM #7 Y-YZF-R1 204 8:00'51.676 10Laps 2'14.630 I.JERMAN S.MARTIN S.PLATER
14 SUZUKI ENDURANCE RACING TEAM S-GSX-R1000 202 8:00'30.962 12Laps 2'12.117 - J.DA COSTA M.LAGRIVE
15 TRICK STAR RACING K-ZX-10R 202 8:01'01.932 12Laps 2'13.546 S.TAKEISHI R.TSURUTA K.EGUCHI