The Honda TT Legends team has held onto its 2nd place in the Endurance World Championship after a top 10 finish in the prestigious Suzuka 8-Hour at the weekend.
The outfit, which features multiple Isle of Man TT winners John McGuinness and Cameron Donald, has also closed in on title rivals SERT with two rounds to go.
With the aim of a safe and steady race, the team battled through hot and humid conditions to put in a smooth and trouble-free performance. The ABS-equipped Honda Fireblade did not miss a beat, meaning the crew and riders were able to complete the scheduled pit stop strategy of three stints per rider without fault.
Fellow EWC contenders SERT, YART and BMW Motorrad France 99 all encountered problems. SERT and BMW were able to rejoin the race and salvage championship points, but YART were forced to retire.
After a nail-biting last hour, the Honda TT Legends took 10th place and 29 points, leaving the team second in the overall EWC standings, just five points behind SERT.
The race was won by F.C.C TSR Honda with Kousuke Akiyoshi and Honda World Superbike's Jonathan Rea on board. Rea, and Isle of Man resident and regular visitor to the TT, becomes the first British rider to stand on the Suzuka 8-hour podium.
Team manager Russell Benney said:
“We’ve held on to 2nd place in the World Championship, and not only that, we have closed the gap on our closest rival SERT, who suffered some problems in the race.”
“We had another smooth run and the softly, softly approach has paid off. We take a strong 2nd position in the championship to the next round at Oschersleben, where we hope to compete at full gas for the best result possible.”
“Last year we didn’t get past the first hour so to finish this year is a great achievement. To come here with no testing, race against some of the best endurance riders in the world and come 10th is great.”
The 19-times TT winner added:
“It’s been a tough old day, but I’m pleased. I did three stints with no mistakes and I really enjoyed the race to be honest. It was red hot, but it was great. The team did a good job, the ABS and everything on the bike worked like a dream and overall it’s a fantastic package. We’ve scored some valuable points and with two rounds to go we’re in a good position.”
Donald, a double TT winner, said:
“Mission accomplished! I’m stoked with our result and it’s all the sweeter after coming here last year and not finishing.”
“It was a long way to come to go home with no points. It’s been a massive effort from the whole team this week in unbelievably hot conditions. Everyone has worked so hard and the job we came to do is done.”
The final member of the yeam was Jason O’Halloran, who added:
“John and Cameron did a great job and I just tried to stay as consistent as I could. It’s a case of working your way through the traffic because there are a lot of bikes out there and as the stints go on everyone gets more tired and it gets a lot harder.”
“The last stint was really hard while my best and most consistent was my second. The team have done a great job again, we turned up here without testing and I think we have done really well in the time we had available.”
The next round of the Endurance World Championship, at Oschersleben, Germany, takes place on August 11-12.