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KRT at the 2019 Suzuka 8hr

From Tears to Triumph: KRT somehow claim 2019 Suzuka 8hr

Jul 292019

One of the most prestigious motorcycle races in the world turned out to be one of the most dramatic in recent memory. WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki Racing Team teammate Leon Haslam took their official ZX-10RR entry to the top of a belated podium in Japan after an astonishing switch-around.

Rea and Haslam had been leading the affair after 7hours and 58 minutes through the gruelling humidity and by swapping riding stints around the fast course that was the home of Japanese Grand Prix racing for so many years. The duo battled world championship peers like Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes and Michael Van der Mark and were also mired in the backdrop of the FIM Endurance World Championship finale.

“I cannot believe what is happening really,” Rea said. “From being dejected and feeling that everything was out of our hands, I had already gone back to the hotel, said goodbye to all the guys, with lots of tears. I was in the restaurant already, ordering dinner, when my mechanic Uri called me and said, ‘Hey, are you sitting down?’ I thought he was going to ask me to go to another restaurant - but he then told me we had won the 8 Hours. I think common sense prevailed in that one. I have no words because I am really emotional and happy. The strategy was to work on fuel consumption and race consistency and make no mistakes. I feel we executed that quite well although I got quite tired and cramped at the end. But we prepared the best way possible with the limited time we had. I am so proud to be part of the project and what an effort from KRT, KHI, KMJ who prepared for this race in two tests. During the race it is like hell, the hardest race you can ever imagine, but getting a result like this almost makes me want to come back for more. The emotional roller coaster is unreal.”

“I have no words to describe how I feel,” said Haslam, who helped Kawasaki despite a small injury. “The Suzuka 8 Hours is always one of the hardest races of the year. When the oil went down and the situation happened at the end; words cannot describe the lows we had. But when the good news came through, the highs were just as high. In the second half of each stint I really struggled physically but the bike was working well. I am so happy and I want to thank Kawasaki for this opportunity; also the whole team, Toprak and Johnny, and we pushed as hard as we could. It is a shame that we did not get to stand on the top of the podium but the result is in and we have won the Suzuka 8 Hours.”