The Honda Endurance Racing team has finished the 42ndEdition of the Suzuka 8 Hours in a hard fought 13th. Honda’s endurance specialists Sébastien Gimbert, Randy de Puniet and Yonny Hernandez overcame all arising challenges to bring the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade home safe and sound.
Starting from 21st position, start rider Yonny Hernandez already had made his way up close to the Top-Ten on the first laps, when a unfortunate small crash in the last chicane prior the main straight stopped his assault for some 30 seconds. Hernandez was able to continue without having to put in an extra stop as the Fireblade needed no repair at all.
Around half way through of the Suzuka 8 Hours the Honda Endurance Racing team had to solve a minor issue on the bike, when Sébastien Gimbert entered into the garage directly after his stint. The bike was sent back out again fairly quick after it had repaired and the dashboard got changed.
Together with Randy de Puniet, Hernandez and Gimbert lapped a solid race pace, surprising themselves with slightly better times than expected. The team had tried some set up changes during today’s warm up session and that proved to be a step in the right direction.
There is some confusion going on about the result of the race with the leading team not making it back to parc fermé being excluded – but later brought back in again due to a special paragraph in the Endurance regulations.
Sébastien Gimbert 111
It was not easy; this week was very complicated. We had a strange situation and were fighting the chattering all the time. May lap times have been too slow because I compare that to SERT or F.C.C.. I am not happy because this result is not my objective but it is okay because we finished the race which is the first thing you have to do in Endurance racing and especially at the end it wasn’t easy to do that today. It is strange to finish this season as we did, but now I am focusing on the Bol d’Or because this will be the last race for me and I want to win to finish my career on a high note. I am happy I have such a strong team behind me and my team mates are really, really strong so I am looking to the Bol d’Or with confidence.
Randy de Puniet 111
It was a really hard week because we had some difficulties during all the sessions, but today we made some big changes and it was a little bit better – the pace today was much better. Without Yonny’s crash and the small technical issue it would have been possible to enter the Top-10. We finished 13th – which is not bad. Yonny crashed but this is not a problem, it is a race and he wanted to stay in a good rhythm – and I crashed in the past as well, so there is nothing to moan about in this point as it always can happen and it was not a stupid crash. I think our team, the riders and the crew, did a really good job. Sometimes it was hard to accept the situation but in the end we improved the setting for the race and it was better than in the rest of the week. We understood many things and can build on that in the future. It was difficult but we all stayed strong together all the time and so did a good job.
Yonny Hernandez 111
At the end I am not so happy because we know we have the potential to fight further up on the front. But here it was a difficult week during the practices and the race. The race itself was really hard, especially to keep a fast rhythm. I tried to do my best and to understand the bike. I wanted to push on lap times, more was not possible today. Positive is the word for the work we have done with the team during the week to get the setup better though. I have to say a big thanks to the team and we finished the 8 hours which is something always to be proud of. At the end it was not so bad because we were in P12 but for sure we need to find a solution for the Bol d’Or because we know we can do better.
It has been a really, really tough week. It has not really got going for us and every time it did – whether that was practice or qualifying – and we thought we started to get some momentum, there would be a little crash or we hit a ceiling on the lap time. And that happened in the race today: We started to get some momentum and made our way through the field and then it was a crash or we had a bit more fuel consumption than we had planned or a small technical issue. We never really got going, which is a bit disappointing, because I think we could have been a challenger in the Top-10 but it wasn’t to be. The end of the race – well, with the result of some other teams in the last minutes – this shows how unlucky you can be in this sport and how punishing it is, so this puts it all in perspective. We learnt something, got some home work to do before we go to the Bol-test.