HASLAM AND VAN DER MARK TASTE VICTORY AT SUZUKA

Haslam and van der Mark victorious at Suzuka

Haslam and van der Mark victorious at Suzuka

Pata Honda riders Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark have won the Suzuka 8-hours race in Japan following an incident-packed race over the weekend.

Teamed with experienced Japanese rider Takumi Takahashi, the trio’s Musashi HARC-Pro outfit had led the early stages of the gruelling race before they were methodically hunted down by Pata Honda World Superbike team-mate Jonathan Rea.

The 26-year-old won the prestigious event last season and was one of the favourites for this year’s race but was unable to finish after his FCC TSR Honda team-mate, Ryuichi Kiyonari, crashed in the third hour of the race. The damage sustained by the team’s CBR1000RR was too heavy to continue.

The Musashi team inherited the lead, which they extended to one lap over their nearest rivals and held it to the chequered flag, despite rain falling at Suzuka during the final, nerve-wracking 40 minutes.

Haslam, 30, whose father Ron was runner-up in the 1979 running of the 8-hours race, becomes the second British rider to win the Suzuka 8-hours in as many years after Rea’s victory last season.

Twenty-year-old Van der Mark, meanwhile, is the first Dutch rider to win the event, doing so on his first attempt and in his first competitive ride on a Superbike machine and his debut on Bridgestone tyres. Today’s victory, Honda’s 26th, is the fourth consecutive win for the CBR1000RR Fireblade at Suzuka and its fifth in the last six years.

All three Pata Honda riders will be back in action on their own CBRs next weekend (2-4 August) at the Silverstone circuit in the UK – Haslam and Rea in the World Superbike championship and van der Mark on a CBR600RR in World Supersport.

Leon Haslam

This means so much after the tough season I’ve had. The leg held up pretty well during my stints but I just want to say thanks to the whole Musashi HARC-Pro team. They did a great job and also Mickey and Takahashi-san rode really well. I feel sorry for Jonathan and Kiyo [Ryuichi Kiyonari] but it’s a long tough race and anything can happen. I’m just glad that we managed to hold on to the lead until the end. It’s a really magical feeling.

Michael van der Mark

I’m just so excited! What a fantastic day it’s been – I can’t really believe yet what’s happened! We won the 8-hours!! We had a really strong team and the bike was working so, SO good! And the teamwork during the pitstops was perfect. It was amazing to watch. I am so thankful to everybody that helped me and allowed me to be a part of this incredible experience.

Jonathan Rea #11 ahead of Suzuka rival

Jonathan Rea #11 ahead of Suzuka rival

Jonathan Rea

Unfortunately, today we were not able to repeat our win from last year after Kiyo crashed out during his second stint and injured his chest. I enjoyed riding though, especially hunting down the leaders and then giving the bike to Kiyo with a comfortable gap. I did everything I could but this year it was just not meant to be. I must congratulate my two Pata Honda team-mates on winning the race, though – they did a great job.

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