Sunday July 29th
KYB MORIWAKI MOTUL RACING Ends the 2018 Suzuka 8 Hours Race in 8th Overall
It is the race day of the 2017-2018 FIM World Endurance Series Final Round the 41st Suzuka 8 Hours Race and the expected hurricane had went through Suzuka overnight and in the morning practice session the sun was out for a promising race. There were still a strong wind out on the track and some wet patches on the circuit for the morning practice and KYB MORIWAKI MOTUL RACING comes 8th overall with a time of 2.11.380 with the condition given.
Just before 10 minutes prior from the start of the race it was sunny track however, a sudden squall hit the circuit and in an instant the entire track became wet. With that said at 11:30 am the 41st Suzuka 8 Hours Race began. The starting rider is Ryuichi Kiyonari and took a strong decision by choosing the slick tyres even in the wet condition. The team had the information that the rain will stop shortly and it will continue to dry up. In the opening lap Kiyonari came back 52nd and loses several positions more and comes back the 2nd lap in 59th. However, the information from the team was correct and the track starts to dry up. From lap 15 the pace of wet weather tyres and dry tyres made a transition and Kiyonari made an incredible charge. In lap 15 Kiyonari marked 2.15’s more than 10 seconds faster than the teams in wet weather tyres and eventually overtook 44 riders until he pitted in lap 31 coming in 15th overall to Yuki Takahashi for his first stint.
Then Takahashi rode 27 laps, constantly in the 2.11’s and 2.10’s in his first stint making up the position to 9th until Takahashi came back for the routine pit stop in lap 58. Due to the pit stop Kiyonari drops the position to 11th and in lap 63, just 5 laps in for Kiyonari’s second stint a Safety Car run was forced out onto the track. Unfortunately the safety car came in between Kiyonari and the rider in front for a position and the gap had opened. Kiyonari stretched his stint to 31 laps again and in lap 89 Kiyonari makes his routine pit stop in 8th place. Half way through the race, Takahashi with his unbelievable concentration and consistency, was able to lap consistent in the 2.11’s and keeps the position in 9th place. In lap 117 Takahashi makes his routine stop in 8th place to switch over to Kiyonari.
In lap 120 Kiyonari marked the team’s fastest lap with a time of 2.09.600 and makes another charge however a sudden squall hits the circuit once again and in lap 127 a safety car was forced out again. During the safety car period there was a crash out on the front straight and the safety car was forced to stay out a little longer. In lap 138 just after the safety car period was finished, Kiyonari came back to the pits for a routine stop. At this point the team decided to go for a 6 stop strategy. Frustratingly, another safety car was forced out on the track due to oil on the side of the back stretch to 130R, the longest safety car period of the day which lasted for 30 minutes. In this stint Takahashi rode the bike for little over one and a half hour for 31 laps and switches to Kiyonari for the very last stint in lap 169. It was a perfect 6 stop strategy and Kiyonari used all of his concentration and consistency to finish the race in 8th place.
The preparation period was 1 year, of course the goal is to finish at the top of the podium. Moriwaki knows what it takes to get there and how difficult it is, that is why Moriwaki never gives up. “There is no end to monozukuri” is the spirit that Moriwaki has from the beginning and the riders, team staff, and staff of Moriwaki will continue to fight to the top of the podium for next year’s race.
“It was the team’s decision to go out with slick tyres from the start and I believed in Kiyo that he will be the fastest rider when it all dries up, and it really was. Looking back to my first stint I wished that I could have gone a little more in the end of my stint. The track condition changed every time with rain and safety car coming in it was very difficult. The team told me that “we will build the strategy as we move on” and went out with rain tyres in my last stint ended up riding for about one and a half hour with safety car out. The team’s flexible strategy was perfect and we only stopped 6 times. I’d just wish that the safety car to come just a little slower so then I would have been in the same place with the riders fighting for position in front of me but unfortunately every safety car period I was cut off right in front. If we were lucky in those positions then we may have fought for the podium. Lastly I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported us for this race. Thank you!”
“It was a very difficult condition. Although I was expecting these kind of condition so it was good for me to test both slick and treaded tyres to check up on the feeling at the morning practice and the feeling was actually good towards the race. A heavy rain struck just before the start of the race but the team decided to go with slicks so I trusted the team and went out with slick tyres. At the beginning the rain was heavier than I thought it was and it took quite some time to dry up so it took me a little while to charge through the field. Although after that Yuki and I never made mistakes and went with the team strategy and that was a very good thing. We were scheduled to stop at around 27 to 28 laps per stint however with rain and all the safety cars coming in it was little out from the strategy to stretch the stint I am sorry for the team for doing what was not in the strategy. I thought we were maybe more up in the position however, with this result, I will take it and was able to realize where we are now. From this point we will obtain what we need now and be stronger for next year. I would like to thank everyone for all of your support. Thanks!”
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■Race Report ENG