VAN DER MARK WINS SUZUKA 8 HOURS!
Pata Honda riders Michael van der Mark and Leon Haslam, together with Japanese team-mate Takumi Takahashi won sunday’s Suzuka 8 Hours race in Japan with the MuSashi Harc-Pro Honda team’s CBR1000RR Fireblade for the second year in succession. It was a dramatic and incident-packed race after the start was delayed by one hour because of a heavy rain storm. Further rain fell during the race and a number of crashes brought out the pace car no fewer than four times. One of those crashes befell race leader Kosuke Akiyoshi of the FCC TSR squad, winner of the 2012 race with Jonathan Rea who was his team-mate once again for this year’s event.
It was World Supersport championship leader van der Mark who put the decisive move on Suzuki’s Randy de Puniet to take second place at around half race distance. When Akiyoshi crashed out, the Dutchman took over the lead which eventually built to more than a minute by the time his team-mate Takahashi took the chequered flag after just under seven hours of racing. And it was van der Mark and Haslam who, as Pata Honda team-mates, were left to celebrate their second successive win with Takahashi, for whom it was a third Suzuka 8 Hours victory. It was the fifth consecutive success for Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade and Honda’s 27th Suzuka triumph.
Michael van der Mark, after he landed yesterday late in the evening at Schiphol Airport Amsterdam: “Amazing feeling! I was ready for the third hour but it start raining and team decided to go with Takumi in the rain because he has more experience. The fourth hour was for me and I got faster and faster with a steady pace and rhythm. The bike worked perfect, the team did an amazing job. My last stint was at a really good pace and I could ride quite easily. To be here again in my second year is amazing feeling. We did it all together.”
Picture: David Reygondeau