Endurance

Pata Honda riders conquer Suzuka 8 Hours with CBR again

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Pata Honda riders Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark, together with Japanese team-mate Takumi Takahashi won the 2014 editoin Suzuka 8 Hours race in Japan with the MuSashi Harc-Pro Honda team's CBR1000RR Fireblade for the second year in succession.

"Usually I enjoy my riding but for this time I felt pressure not to crash or not to make any mistakes." Haslam said after the race. "The team did a fantastic job and the pit-stops were very neat and quick.

"Michael was super-fast and Takumi was Mr. Consistent in his stints! I was really nervous watching him at the end, but he made it for our second win in a row.

It was a dramatic and incident-packed race after the start was delayed by one hour because of a heavy rain storm. Further rain fell during the race and a number of crashes brought out the pace car no fewer than four times.

One of those crashes befell race leader Kosuke Akiyoshi of the FCC TSR squad, winner of the 2012 race with Jonathan Rea who was his team-mate once again for this year‰Ûªs event. Remarkably, Akiyoshi managed to return his CBR1000RR Fireblade to the pits, despite fracturing his femur in the crash.

It is the second year in succession that Rea has seen a team-mate crash out of a healthy lead but the FCC TSR team managed to repair the machine and draft in the fourth Pata Honda rider Lorenzo Zanetti who was reserve rider for the team. With Rea doing the final stint in the gruelling race, the pair managed to lift the team back to 40th place at the flag.

It was World Supersport championship leader van der Mark who put the decisive move on Suzuki‰Ûªs Randy de Puniet to take second place at around half race distance. When Akiyoshi crashed out, the Dutchman took over the lead which eventually built to more than a minute by the time his team-mate Takahashi took the chequered flag after just under seven hours of racing.

And it was van der Mark and Haslam who, as Pata Honda team-mates, were left to celebrate their second successive win with Takahashi, for whom it was a third Suzuka 8 Hours victory. It was the fifth consecutive success for Honda‰Ûªs CBR1000RR Fireblade and Honda‰Ûªs 27th Suzuka triumph.

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