Yamaha made it three victories in a row at the world’s most prestigious race thanks to the supreme consistency of Kats Nakasuga, Michael van der Mark and a blisteringly-quick Alex Lowes.
The weekend started on a high as Yamaha claimed pole position before never setting a foot wrong in the gruelling Suzuka Eight-Hours race. Opening stints from Nakasuga and Lowes allowed the YFRT to open up a comfortable margin over the horde of Honda teams behind them.
“The first session was really tough, I wanted to go fast but I knew I had to bring the bike back. I’m now the only Japanese rider to win three consecutive Suzuka races which is a great honour for me,” reflected Nakasuga who pushed the limit during a hairy first stint filled with rain showers.
“I was a little bit nervous in the last hour, these two guys did a fantastic job and we had a bit of a lead because of that – which made me more nervous.” said Lowes, who despite the nerves walks away from the event with a new race lap record, a 2’06.932.
The former BSB champion can now add a second Suzuka Eight-Hours title to his CV, along with the satisfaction of silencing the keyboard warriors convinced he would crash.
Lowes, like his teammates, as full of praise for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team: “The team did a fantastic job with the bike and I’m already looking forward to coming back next year.”
Solid stints from all three riders meant their rivals were never within a lap of the leaders for most of the race. A third victory at Suzuka saw Michael van der Mark join an exclusive club of riders who have won for two different manufacturers. “I’m really happy to be here with a different manufacturer and winning the Suzuka again. The first two years I was here were really difficult ones and to now win with Yamaha is very special.”
The Dutch rider, like Lowes, was eager to return to the Yamaha team next year, no doubt alongside Nakasuga.