After Jonathan Rea became the first Brit’ to win the prestigious Suzuka 8-Hour race last year, his Pata Honda WSB teammate, Leon Haslam, repeated the feat this weekend in an incident-packed race.
Haslam teamed up with rookie Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport rider) and experienced Japanese rider, Takumi Takahashi, to pilot the Musashi HARC-Pro Fireblade to victory, and overcome the broken leg he’s still suffering with.
Haslam said: “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 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.”
Yoshimura Suzuki finished second, with BSB’s Josh Brookes partnering Nobu Aoki and Tsuda-san, while 20 years after winning the 500cc World Championship and at the age of 49, Kevin Schwantz joined forces with Yukio Kagayama and Nori Haga to take the final podium slot on their GSX-R1000.
Jonny Rea and Ryuichi Kiyonari looked set to repeat last year’s success onboard the FCC TSR Honda but Kiyo stacked it (apparently on oil or water), and the Fireblade’s damage was too serious to continue.
A big shout has to go out to van der Mark on his superbike/slicks debut. The young Dutch kid is doing himself a good job of a 2014 ride with the Big H. Talking of the Big H, the Honda TT Legends had a nightmare, finishing in 22nd after a clutch change and a flat tyre. The next round of the WEC is at Oschersleben in August.