Yamaha’s strong form in the 2015 motor racing season continued in grand fashion at the iconic Suzuka 8 Hours when the factory team came out on top of the gruelling endurance race, completing 2014 laps on its way to taking its first Suzuka win since 1996.

Riders Pol Espargaro, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, and Bradley Smith all took the top podium in a race that was as eventful as many expected it to be. The drama began as soon as the race started as all the favorites got off to impressive starts, separating themselves early from the rest of the pack. Oddly enough, it was Yamaha who got off to a slow start, but the team inched its way back to the front, thanks in large part to some steely riding from Smith and Nakasuga.

Numerous crashes, including one that saw Casey Stoner sustain a broken right shoulder blade and left tibia, forced the safety car to come out as many as six times, thus creating all sorts of turnover atop the leaderboard.

When the race eventually settled down, it became a two-way race between the Yamaha Factory squad and F.C.C TSR Honda with Yoshimura Suzuki remaining within striking distance. That’s when Espargaro pushed the pace of the Yamaha, exchanging leads in the latter stage of the race with F.C.C TSR Honda’s Dominique Aegerter, before pulling away to secure Yamaha’s first victory in the 8 Hours of Suzuka in the last 19 years.

F.C.C TSR Honda took home second place with Team Kagayama taking up the last step of the podium in third place.

Continue reading to read more about Yamaha’s first win at the 8 Hours of Suzuka endurance race since 1996.

Why it matters

The legendary endurance race held annually in Suzuka, Japan has produced some of the best moments in the history of endurance racing. The 2015 installment of the 8 Hours of Suzuka won’t go down as the best or most memorable of these races, but it was still exciting to watch. That’s saying a lot for a race that forces fans to watch for eight hours, but the constant drama that surrounded the proceedings of this race made it all worth it.

Yamaha’s win is the latest feather in the cap of what’s turning out to be a hugely successful year in motor racing for the team. It still has a seemingly insurmountable lead in MotoGP, thanks to the exploits of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. Now it has the 8 Hours of Endurance to add to its list of accomplishments in the current racing season.

A special shout out also goes to Bridgestone tires, which has won the race for the 10 straight year. That’s an incredible accomplishment for the Japanese tire brand, knowing full well that it’s prototype tires have become the tire-of-choice for many teams competing in the endurance race.

Last but not least, a special shout out to Casey Stoner, who only lasted five laps in the race before crashing at the Hairpin Corner that resulted in a mangled bike and worse, a broken right shoulder blade and left tibia for the two-time MotoGP champion. Stoner was stretchered off of the scene of the crash so right now, all I can do is send my thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery for the legendary motorcycle rider.

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