Smalley racer Leon Haslam has won the Suzuka 8-hours race in Japan following an incident-packed race at the weekend.
Teamed with fellow Pata Honda rider Michael Van Der Mark, and experienced Japanese racer Takumi Takahashi, the trio’s Musashi HARC-Pro outfit had led the early stages of the gruelling race before they were methodically hunted down by Pata Honda World Superbike team-mate Jonathan Rea.
Rea on the prestigious event last season and was one of the favourites for this year’s race but was unable to finish after his FCC TSR Honda team-mate, Ryuichi Kiyonari, crashed in the third hour of the race. The damage sustained by the team’s CBR1000RR was too heavy to continue.
The Musashi team inherited the lead, which they extended to one lap over their nearest rivals and held it to the chequered flag, despite rain falling at Suzuka during the final 40 minutes.
Haslam, 30, whose father Ron was runner-up in the 1979 running of the 8-hours race, becomes the second British rider to win it in as many years.
He said: “This means so much after the tough season I’ve had. I just want to say thanks to the whole Musashi HARC-Pro team.”
He will be back in action this weekend at the Silverstone circuit.