Jonathan Rea’s season just gets better after the Northern Ireland rider won the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours race for the second time in Japan.
The four-time World Superbike champion and team-mates Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu were declared champions after a dramatic race, which saw Rea seemingly crash out on oil as he led the race with only two minutes to go after the #2 SERT Suzuki had expired at Turn 3 in the final 20 minutes.
The race was red-flagged as a result and it was thought Kawasaki had won the race, but the team was excluded from the result after failing to return to parc ferme within five minutes following the stoppage.
This saw the factory Yamaha team of Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark and Katsuyuki Nakasuga declared the winners.
However, Kawasaki lodged an appeal, claiming the result should have been based on positions at the end of the final lap completed in the instance of a red flag being shown.
Race Direction later reversed the decision and reinstated Kawasaki as the winners, accepting that the five-minute rule should not have been implemented given the race had not been declared a result at the moment of the red flag.
Instead, the result was taken based on positions at the end of the previous lap, giving Northern Ireland man Rea, Haslam and Razgatlioglu – who did not complete a stint during the race – a coveted victory at Suzuka, which was Kawasaki’s first success in the race since 1993.
It is also Rea’s second victory in the Suzuki 8 Hours after he became the first British rider to win the race with Honda in 2012.
The #21 Yamaha team has now officially declared as the runners-up, with the #33 Honda team of Stefan Bradl, Takumi Takahashi and Ryuichi Kiyonari taking third.