Hook third – Miller fourth at 2017 Suzuka 8 Hours
Josh Hook led the Australian charge with a podium finish as Jack Miller took fourth on his Suzuka 8 Hours debut.
Hook was the highest placed of seven Australian’s on six bikes, who finished inside the top ten, while the Yamaha Factory Racing Team converted it’s third straight pole at Suzuka into a third straight victory in the famous enduro.
Lean Haslam (Britain) got the jump from third on the grid to lead away on the #11 Kawasaki Team Green bike, before Miller’s #634 Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda was taken into the lead in the hands of Takumi Takahashi in the opening quarter-hour.
Katsuyuki Nakasuga also got by on the #21 Yamaha Factory Racing Team bike, he and Takahashi gradually pulling away. The two Japanese riders swapped positions several times before they pitted about an hour into proceedings.
Miller took over #634 and Alex Lowes (Britain) #21, the latter going clear after an early duel during the second hour.
It was essentially the last battle that the eventual winners would face, as Takaaki Nakagami (Japan) crashed the #634 Honda during the third hour, causing them to lose two positions and fall off the lead lap.
While Miller kept #634 around 15s away from the podium positions during the fifth and sixth hour of the race, the crash manifested itself in an issue with the fairing which cost more time in the pits.
The drama had, however, helped the #5 FCC TSR Honda of Hook, Randy De Puniet (France), and Dominique Aegerter (Switzerland) move up to second position.
The #5 Honda had been in a battle with the #11 Kawasaki ridden by Haslam, Kazuma Watanabe (Japan), and Azlan Shah Bin Kamaruzaman (Malaysia), which took third.
Hook looked on for a runner-up finish, but a small fire on the #5 bike with around half an hour to go forced De Puniet to pit.
He quickly resumed, with the flames having gone out by the time he made pit lane, but the on-track, damage was done as Haslam took over second position.
In the end, the #21 YZF-R1 of Nakasuga, Lowes, and Michael van der Mark (Netherlands) won by more than a lap, giving the former his third straight Suzuka 8 Hours win as well as the team.
The #11 Kawasaki took second and #5 Honda third, giving Taree rider Hook a second Suzuka podium in three years after finishing second in 2015. Miller rode the #634 Honda across the finish line in fourth.
Broc Parkes’ #7 YART-Yamaha finished fifth and Josh Brookes’ #12 Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing was seventh.
Josh Waters’ #03 MotoMapSupply FutureAccess came home ninth, and the #72 Honda Dream RT Sakurai Honda which both Jason Mark O’Halloran and Jamie Stauffer rode rounded out the top 10.
The GMT94 Yamaha team finished 11th in what was the final round of the season to earn a third FIM Endurance World Championship in four seasons.
2017 Suzuki 8 Hour Results
- EWC Yamaha Factory Racing Team – Y-YZF-R1 – Katsuyuki Nakasuga (JPN) Alex Lowes (GBR) Michael van der Mark (NED)
- EWC Kawasaki Team Green – K-ZX-10RR – Kazuma Watanabe (JPN) Leon Haslam (GBR) Azlan Shah Bin Kamaruzaman (MAS)
- EWC FCC TSR Honda – H-CBR 1000RR SP2 – Dominique Aegerter (SUI) Randy De Puniet (FRA) Josh Hook (AUS)
- EWC Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda – H-CBR 1000RR SP2 – Takumi Takahashi (JPN) Jack Miller (AUS) Takaaki Nakagami (JPN)
- EWC YART-Yamaha – Y-YZF-R1 – Broc Parkes (AUS) Kohta Nozane (JPN) Marvin Fritz (GER)
- EWC Honda Dream Racing – H-CBR 1000RR SP2 – Tomoyoshi Koyama (JPN) Ryosuke Iwato (JPN) Tatsuya Yamaguchi (JPN)
- EWC Yoshimura Suzuki Motul Racing – S-GSX-R1000 L7 – Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Josh Brookes (AUS) Takuya Tsuda (JPN)
- EWC Satu Hati Honda Team Asia – H-CBR 1000RR SP2 – Dimes Ekky Pratama (IDN) Md. Zaqhwan Zaidi (MAS) Ratthapong Wilairot (THA)
- EWC MotoMapSupply FutureAccess – S-GSX-R1000 – Josh Waters (AUS) Nobuatsu Aoki (JPN) Yoshihiro Konno (JPN)
- EWC Honda Dream RT Sakurai Honda – H-CBR 1000RR SP2 – Ryo Mizuno (JPN) Jason Mark O’Halloran (AUS) Jamie Stauffer (AUS)
…23 – EWC S-Pulse Dream Racing-IAI – S-GSX-R1000 – Hideyuki Ogata (JPN) Marcel Schrotter (GER) Alex Cudlin (AUS)
…42 – EWC Team SuP Dream Honda – H-CBR 1000RR SP2 – Shinichi Ito (JPN) Damian Cudlin (AUS) Gregg Black (FRA)
…46 – EWC TeamJP, DFR&RS-ITOH – K-ZX-10RR – Kazuki Watanabe (JPN) Mark Aitchison (AUS) Masahiro Shinjo (JPN)
…51* – SST Akeno-Speed Yamaha – Y-YZF-R1 – Anthony West (AUS) Makoto Inagaki (JPN) Alex Schacht (DEN)