The legendary Suzuka Circuit in Japan hosts the third round of the FIM Endurance World Championship this weekend (August 4-7), the 43rd edition of the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race.
The Suzuka 8 Hours kicks off part two of the 2022 FIM EWC season this weekend. The event has not been on the calendar since 2019 due to the worldwide corona pandemic. Fans and participants alike are eagerly awaiting the return of the event, where a number of regular FIM EWC drivers and teams – plus some of Japan’s best drivers and their teams – will appear at the start and challenge each other on the ultra-thrilling layout of the Suzuka circuit.
In addition to the unique design of the figure-eight track and the combination of high, medium and low speed turns, temperatures during the event can reach as high as 35 degrees Celsius with a humidity level of 40%, making for a demanding FIM EWC event.
New and familiar names on the participant list
Let’s start with the range of Yoshimura SERT Motul, the reigning world champion. The Suzuki team is also currently leading the standings after two races. Before their home game, one of the team’s regular drivers, Gregg Black, was assigned another role within the team, that of team captain. In Black’s place, Japan’s Kazuki Watanabe will form the team’s driver trio alongside Sylvain Guintoli and Xavier Siméon.
Viltaïs Racing Igol focuses exclusively on the European FIM EWC races. However, one of their drivers, Erwan Nigon – former FIM EWC champion – will be at the start in Suzuka. The Frenchman is part of the Japanese EVA RT 01 Webike Trickstar Kawasaki.
Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8H – winner of the last edition in 2019 – will be back at the start with Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam. As the third rider, the team has added Alex Lowes to the team. With Lowes and Haslam as three-time winners of the event, and Rea winning this historic race twice, the team can be seen as one of the big favorites for victory. That Kawasaki is very committed to winning is evident from the fact that almost the entire Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK crew has flown in to assist the three mentioned gentlemen in their pursuit of victory.
Iker Lecuona, current Team HRC rider in the FIM Superbike World Championship and former MotoGP rider, will represent Team HRC this weekend. Together with Tetsuta Nagashima and Takumi Takahashi, the Spaniard forms the team that will pull the coals out of the fire for Honda. However, Team HRC is not Honda’s only spearhead in this race. Honda’s regular FIM EWC team, FCC TSR Honda France, will also be at the start. The team, which has already managed to finish on the podium twice this season, is formed by Mike de Meglio, Josh Hook and Gino Rea.
YART – Yamaha Official Team EWC with Niccolò Canepa, Marvin Fritz and Karel Hanika will receive additional support from Team Yamalube for Suzuka. The Austrian team heads to Suzuka for its first FIM EWC win of the season.
The BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team will start at the Suzuka 8H with Jérémy Guarnoni, Illya Mykhalchyk and Markus Reiterberger after winning the 24H SPA EWC Motos last month. Guarnoni and Reiterberger both already have the necessary experience at Suzuka, but for the Ukrainian Mykhalchyk it will be the baptism of fire on the challenging Japanese circuit.
Due to the still restrictive measures, the extreme costs of transport, travel and accommodation in Japan, there are significantly fewer (European) teams to start this season during the 43rd edition of the Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race.
As with all FIM EWC events, there will be two qualifying sessions at Suzuka, in addition to pre-event testing, free practice and night practice. However, the Suzuka 8H also features a Top 10 qualifying session, a qualifying session where the top ten starting positions for the eight-hour race are determined.
After the second qualifying session on Friday, the 10 fastest teams advance to the Top 10 Trial on Saturday afternoon. Two riders per teams participate and each rider gets a lap to set his time. These lap times for each rider are then added together to determine the final route for Sunday. The 5-4-3-2-1 qualifying points will be awarded after the Top 10 qualifier and not after the second qualifier as is the case with other FIM EWC events.
There is also another notable difference: the Suzuka 8H only counts for FIM Endurance World Championship points. However, in accordance with FIM EWC rules, there is a lower points award for races of eight hours or less, with the scoring for the top 20 in the Formula EWC category being as follows: 30-24-21-19-17-15 -14- 13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.
- 2019: Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8H (Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam, Toprak Razgatlioglu) 216 laps
- 2018: Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark) 199 laps
- 2017: Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark) 216 laps
- 2016: Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Alex Lowes, Pol Espargaró) 218 laps
- 2015: Yamaha Factory Racing Team (Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Bradley Smith, Pol Espargaró) 204 laps
On Sunday 7 August at 11.30am local time (4.30am European time) the race starts with a genuine Le Mans start. The drivers compete in the heat of the day, at sunset and in the early evening, after which the finishing flag is waved for the winner of this prestigious race at 19:30 local time.
Useful links Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours 2022:
Schedule and full results
Where can you follow on TV
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