Team KAGAYAMA finishes on the podium for 3 consecutive years at Suzuka
The 2015 FIM Endurance World Championship Series Round 2-The 38th “Coca-Cola Zero” Suzuka 8hours FIM Endurance World Championship was held on July 26th at Suzuka Circuit in Mie, Japan. Although rain was forecasted, however, clear skies and hot weather made race week a “traditional” Suzuka 8Hours race.
In its third year at Suzuka, Team KAGAYAMA lined up Yukio Kagayama, Noriyuki Haga, and Ryuichi Kiyonari, making it an “all-star” dream team. Aiming for his record tieing 5th win, Kiyonari has 4 8Hours win, and with Kagayama and Haga’s 1 win each, the total of 6 wins made it the most experienced team in the paddock.
The race, starting by the LeMans method, started at 11:30 a.m. Kiyonari was assigned as the first rider, made a great start from the 5th grid, and took the hole shot. The fuel-saving setting forced Kiyonari to drop to 7th, but finished his 29 lap stint safely and passed the next stint to Kagayama.
In Kagayama’s stint, the safety car was deployed, and this effected the team strategy. At Suzuka 8 Hours, two safety car are deployed due to the number of entrants, with half lap apart with each group. Kagayama was in the 2nd group, and this made the team part from the top 3. Nevertheless, Kagayama made his way up to 4th.
However, Kagayama slipped at the final chicane, and lost time. He was able to restart without any major damage to the bike. The safety car was deployed again soon after, and this time worked for the team. Kagayama took this opportunity to gain back the position and regained the 4th position and passed it to Haga.
Haga, running at the most hottest time of the race, kept 4th. By this time, the team decided to do a 7 stint race, which meant that the riders had to go 29-30 laps a stint, which is a big burden physically for the riders. Haga moved up to 3rd during this stint.
Kiyonari and Kagayama took turns to keep the 3rd position, and Haga finished the race in the 3rd position, bringing the team to the podium for the third time in a row. Although the safety car was deployed 6 times during the race, the team was able to finish 203 laps, making the team the top SUZUKI team at Suzuka.
Yukio Kagayama | 1st Rider
We are able to race because of our sponsors. So I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Dunlop and all our sponsors first. I would also like to that the new CEO of Suzuki Motors for visiting our pit. We are a private team, but we were able to be competitive with the factory teams. We wanted to win the race, but Yamaha and Honda were tough teams to beat. I wanted to prepare a bike that would not harm Haga and Kiyonari’s reputation, but I regret that I could not get them a bike to win, and I want to apologize to both of them. However, considering what we had, I think we were able to finish with the best result within our capability. I want to that Haga and Kiyonari, and the team for making this possible. I want to compliment the team for making quick changes to the strategy, enabling the team to do 6 pitstop race, when even a 7 pitstop race is said to be difficult. I fell at one point, but that everyone that made it recover from that mistake.
Noriyuki Haga | 2nd Rider
We were able to setup the machine in the right direction from the tests, and we had some hiccups but we had no major incidents. Everyone in the team did what they were expected to do, and I think we achieved ther result because of that. Kiyonari ran 3 stints for us, and we were able to get on the podium. We are a privateer, so being on the podium itself is a major accomplishment. If I have a chance to do this again, I wish to win it next time.
Ryuichi Kiyonari | 3rd Rider
I knew that if I was able to to pass the machine to my elders without any mistake, results would follow, so I concentrated on not making any mistakes. I crashed twice during practice, and that slowed down the team’s plans, so I feel sorry for this, and thank the team for fixing the bike quickly. If I can do this again next year, I hope to make it a race with a different story.