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Suzuka 8hoursJapanJuly 25, 2004
The Suzuka 8 Hours

Ukawa - Izutsu take Suzuka 8 Hours win aboard the CBR1000RR Honda

Tohru Ukawa and Hitoyasu Izutsu raced their Seven Stars liveried CBR1000RR Honda to a historic victory at the 27th running of the Suzuka 8 Hours, held at the classic Japanese circuit today. The experienced pairing led the race virtually every step of the way, lead off rider Ukawa moving into the lead half way round lap one and from that point on they never looked back.



They finished the race almost two laps ahead of the Yoshimura Suzuki of Watanabe and Kagayama with the ATS DDBOYS CBR1000RR of Hamaguchi and Moriwaki completing the podium places. It was the eighth consecutive Honda victory in the grueling event and their 19th overall.

Ukawa’s victory was his fourth Suzuka 8 Hour triumph a result that gave him an equal share of the record set by Australian Wayne Gardner over a decade ago.

Ukawa said. “It’s fantastic to win the 8hr race. I didn’t feel that long today. During the first session, when I was leading the race, pace cars entered the track and I took the advantage of it. Usually, accidents happen during the early hours, so I was cautious. But I nearly crashed when there were oil patches on the track. After that, everything went smoothly and during my last run, I was not pushing so hard, may be 70% of my performance.”

For team mate Izutsu it was a dream come true. “I joined Honda to win the 8hr race so I am really happy today. Today, many teams retired and there were less back markers towards the end and it was easier to pass them. #11 crashed and retired during the first hour and we had to finish this year. We couldn’t repeat what had happened last year. The gap between us and Yoshimura became bigger toward the end so I didn’t have to push so hard. At the beginning of this weekend, my back ached because I crashed during the testing in June and broke ribs. But today I was in best shape as the temperature was cooler than that of Thursday or Friday. I thank everyone for this victory."

The first hour of the race was a lottery and the winners took full advantage of the confusion caused by the crash that removed the second Seven Stars CBR of Gaku Kamata and Ryuichi Kiyonari from the race. Kamata, who was racing in place of the injured Yuki Takahashi, crashed their CBR after just half an hour. Worse was to follow for Honda when the much fancied pairing of Shinichi Ito and Takeshi Tsujimura (F.C.C. TSR ZIP-FM CBR1000RR) clashed with the Team Harc-Pro CBR of Yoshiteru Konishi and Tsuyoshi Yasuda.

The accidents brought out two pace cars with Ukawa in between them and he eased away to hand over a one minute lead to Izutsu at the first of the seven refueling stops. Barring a crash or mechanical failure the race was Ukawa’s and Izutsu’s to win.

They made no mistake slowly but surely easing away from the field to give the CBR1000RR a maiden victory in the event repeating the first time victories scored by its predecessors, the twin cylinder VTR1000SP and the RC45.

At half race distance the eventual winners were a lap clear of the Yoshimura Suzuki with the Kenz Motul Suzuki of Saito and Fukami. The race pattern remained the same at the front until the seventh hour when the Kenz Motul Suzuki was forced out handing third to ATS DDBOYS CBR.

The leading trio were never under pressure and finished in that order the Seven Stars Honda two laps clear of the Yoshimura Suzuki with ATS DDBOYS machine a further lap down. Tatsuya Yamaguchi and Kazuki Tokudome brought the Masked Rider Blade Honda home in fourth place with the Team 22 Police Nationale & Tsukigi Racing pairing of Kishida and Giabbani a fine fifth on their CBR1000RR.

Seven Stars Honda Team manager Kazuhiko Yamano was delighted with the performance of the new CBR100RR.“What a perfect win that was. I relied on both Ukawa and Izutsu so I wasn’t nervous at all. All the members of the team were together to achieve this victory. I want to thank the staff, sponsors and fans for supporting us.”

The race win rewarded sponsor Seven Stars for keeping faith with Honda after the disaster of the 2003 event when chaotic events unjustly removed both Seven Stars liveried VTRs from the race. HRC General Manager Koji Nakajima said. “Last year, two Seven Star Hondas retired so we had to win this year. It was very long since then. Also you never know what might happen during the race, so I wasn’t confident today till the end. I want to thank everyone who supported us.”

Veteran rider Shinichi Ito made a token appearance in the last 30 minutes of what might well be his last 8 hour race much to the delight of his many fans who cheered him around every lap he put in on the F.C.C. TSR ZIP-FM machine.



2004 The Suzuka 8 Hours

(SevenStars Honda 7/H-CBR1000RRW)
(weider Honda ATS DDBOYS/H-CBR1000RR)
(Team22Police Nationale&TSUKIGI Racing
(T e a m ‚g‚`‚q‚b- P R O./H-CBR1000RR)

Related Links

· 2003 The Suzuka 8 Hours
· Honda Worldwide | WGP - FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
· Japan

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