This year’s prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour wasn’t a classic for either the Yoshimura Suzuki team or reigning World Endurance Champions, the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team, but SERT still left Japan heading the championship standings.

SERT, with riders Yukio Kagayama, Vincent Philippe and Anthony Delhalle, were in the hunt for the lead up until the closing stages, until Phillippe crashed the French team’s GSX-R1000 with just an hour and a half to go.

After pushing the bike back to the pits for repairs, the team dropped from second place, but still finished a credible 15th, and retained their championship lead.

Team Manager Dominique Meliand said, “Endurance racing isn’t easy, especially the Suzuka 8-Hour race.

“Yukio joined us for this race and he did a great job as did Vincent Philippe, but we couldn’t forecast the result as there were so many accidents today. The important thing for us is to bring home good points for the championship and that’s what we did.

“When Vincent had the big crash, our main focus was to repair the bike quickly and get back out racing.

“We’re now concentrating on the next round in Germany on August 12th and we’re pleased that Yuki is in the team again.”

Yukio Kagayama added, ”It wasn’t an easy race. I made a mistake at the start that dropped us from eighth to 16th, but I managed to get back with the leading group in the first hour.

“Vincent was riding really well and we were in a podium position until the crash, so although it wasn’t such a good result, I think we proved our performance and I just want to fight for the win in Germany now.”

The Yoshimura Suzuki team, which fielded Leon Camier, Josh Waters and Nobuatsu Aoki, led the way early on, but a technical issue saw them lose eight laps when forced to make an unscheduled pit stop.

They rejoined the race, but the issue would return, forcing them to retire with an hour to go.

Yohei Kato, Yoshimura Team Manager, said, “At Suzuka, just one tiny mistake can stop you from winning.

“Today we had a big mistake in Leon’s 30-second ride-through penalty and then suffered a mechanical problem, but we did get great satisfaction witnessing Josh’s awesome riding skills; this is only his second Suzuka 8-Hour challenge, but he rode like a long-time Suzuka professional.

“He put our bike on provisional Pole Position on Friday and then made a great start by holeshotting the race.

“I would definitely like to work with Josh and Leon again as we aim to win the Suzuka 8-Hour.”

Josh Waters added, “Although we dropped way down, we got back up into the top 10 from around 18th with some really fast lap times, until we had the problem.

“But despite the obvious disappointment for all of us, it’s been great to be part of the team again and we’ve got a lot of positives to take from it.”

It was a good outing for the Moto Map Supply Suzuki team, who finished a very creditable fourth place overall on their GSX-R1000, just one lap from a podium position.

Josh Waters Waters will now start gearing-up for the penultimate round of the Australian Superbike Championship on August 17th – 19th at Phillip Island, where the former Champion goes into the round holding a commanding 30.5-point series lead.

Camier now resumes World Superbike Championship duties with the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team at the British round at Silverstone this weekend.

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