The 2017 Coca Cola Suzuka 8 Hours brought the race to a close with a checkered flag at 7:30 pm.
And who better to take home the gold than the 40th annual outing for the Suzuka 8 Hours than the No. 21 Yamaha Factory Racing Team!?
6 hours after the final race had started, with only 2 hours left to go, No. 21 was in no danger of having their lead taken away from them. Maintaining a fast pace, No. 21 continued to press onward, even going so far as to lap other racers below 3rd place, showing off just how superior their team is. Then, with 1 hour 7 minutes left, the No. 5 F.C.C. TSR Honda team came running up right behind the leader.
During all this, 4th place No. 634 MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda started to have some trouble, eventually having to crawl across the course! In the end they had no choice but to hit the pit.
At 18:35, leaders of the pack No. 21 headed for their own routine pit stop. They there started their last stint. Without any major upsets in terms of the leaders of the pack, at 18:50 when everybody was thinking this is just how the race will end, one of their cars went over the side of the track, and the team at that point brought in their safety car!
With 30 minutes left, the race had resumed with all of the cars much closer than they were before. As soon as the safety car hit the road, second place No. 5 started getting flames flaring out from under its under cowl. With many thinking it would go in for a pitstop, the rider apparently didn’t even notice and kept on driving. At this point No. 11 Kawasaki Team Green made a play on No. 5, and when the orange ball flag for a pitstop flew up, No. 11 was able to overtake them for second place.
There were all sorts of developments, especially due to changes in weather at the start of the race, but the Suzuka 8 Hours was a white knuckle thrill ride until the very end, Yamaha eventually taking home the gold.
Written by Chika Sakigawa
(Translated by Bryce Clarke)