The Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race wrapped up its 38th year in 2015 with the victory of the No. 21 Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Yamaha), who claimed victory with 204 laps.
This year the Suzuka 8 Hours was flagged off by Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves and the race started in sunshine and scorching hot conditions with an air temperature of 35 degrees Celsius, and a road temperature sizzling at 60 degrees Celsius. The four manufacturers, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, & Kawasaki progressed through a very close fight with each other, right from the opening.
The race got off to a thrilling start, with the Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance bike ridden by Alex Lowes taking the lead, with Takumi Takahashi’s Honda Musashi RT Harc-Pro right behind. Katsuyuki Nakasuga was not as quick off the mark for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team bike, trailing at tenth going into the first corner. But the talent of the Japanese rider on his high-performance Yamaha enabled him to move up to third place by the end of the first hour, but No. 634 MuSASHi RT Harc Pro sitting firmly in the lead. Team Green, which had made an impression in the practice sessions, but seemed to encountered a problem during the warm-up lap and dropped behind the leaders in the early part of the race.
This year’s race was a pitched battle between the official teams. But the big event was with the Honda No. 634 MuSASHi RT Harc Pro leading, Casey Stoner’s big crash before the hairpin curve at the 32nd lap an hour and forty minutes into the race. With a severely battered bike and an injured rider, Musashi RT Harc-Pro have to retire, so the dream of three successive championships for No. 634 Harc Pro fell apart. The MotoGP rider suffered a broken right scapula and a fractured left tibia.
Yamaha led the race from the second hour going into the third. From Katsuyuki Nakasuga to MotoGP riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaró, they took their turns and did their parts at the quick pace of a 2’10 lap time. They were able to extend the gap between their rivals little by little.
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