Whilst the 2023 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship is on pause for the time being for the summer break, there was no rest for many of the Championship’s riders, who competed in this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours event at Suzuka, Japan. The world-famous endurance race had headlining names – past and present – right the way through the field, eventually being won by Team HRC with Japan Post, which included 2023 WorldSBK podium finisher Xavi Vierge in their line-up.
With the lead extending all the time, Vierge’s first outing on Lap 53 didn’t slow it down, with the lap times consistent as they cemented their place at the front, before he returned to the track in the second half of the race, albeit with rain in the air and times dramatically slower. However, a rain shower couldn’t stop a mighty performance to finish the race by Tetsuta Nagashima.
Vierge’s debut race at Suzuka saw him alongside Takumi Takahashi and Tetsuta Nagashima, the latter of which was still injured, but that didn’t slow them down as they put in another masterclass performance for Honda to retain their Suzuka crown. The Japanese manufacturer romped home with a 1-2-3-4, which featured the Toho Racing team in P2, headed by ex-WorldSBK race winner Ryuichi Kiyonari, who rolled back the years with a fantastic display. SDG Racing took third, led by Naomichi Uramoto, whilst the F.C.C TSR Honda outfit took third, with World Supersport race winner Tarran Mackenzie taking part too.
In P9, WorldSSP star Marcel Schroetter helped the S-PULSE DREAM RACING-ITEC Suzuki outfit to a top ten. Finishing in P19, WorldSSP rider and WorldSSP300 race winner Yuta Okaya for the Kawasaki Plaza Racing Team, Adam Norrodin helped Team Frontier BMW to 46th. A shout-out to a 1990s WorldSBK great; Akira Yanagawa, the veteran Japanese rider, led the KRP Sanyoukogyo Itoh Kawasaki team to P29 at the age of 52.