Stauffer and Abe 9th at Suzuka
Yamaha Motor Australia’s Jamie Stauffer has delivered a sterling result for the manufacturer at the gruelling Suzuka 8 Hour event in Japan, finishing in 9th overall after sharing riding duties with Norick Abe.
The Suzuka event is considered one of the toughest motorcycle endurance races in the world, with riders facing incredibly long stints on their race bikes in both the day and night. These factors, combined with a world-class field of entrants, makes the top 10 finish of the Stauffer/Abe pairing an even greater achievement.
Riding at a relatively unfamiliar track, Stauffer was able to glean important information and advice from his teammate as they planned their attack on the Suzuka circuit, and similarly lent his own direction towards setting up a comfortable and competitive Yamaha R1 racer. The pairing was consistently quick as they shared duties across various practice and qualifying sessions, and took a deserved spot just outside the second row on the grid, in 9th position.
Pre-race preparations saw Stauffer working with the Yamaha team doctors in order ensure he was properly hydrated, with international riders often finding the change in climate too much to handle. Known for his calm and cool approach, the two-time Australian Superbike Champion adjusted well, and was on the pace as soon as he was required, with Abe completing the opening stint and hauling Yamaha Racing 81 into the lead after a good start and a crash ahead of him. At the rider change, Stauffer entered the race in 7th place, and rode his way into the top 5 with a series of fast and consistent laps, sticking to his original plan for the race. A high rate of attrition had the duo poised to finish extremely well, and as the half-way point ticked past, they were the leading Yamaha team on track. In alternating stints, both riders were attended to by the team masseuse, with muscle soreness in their back hindering their focus.
Jamie accepted the request of the crew to ‘double-up’ and ride two sessions in succession, with Norick struggling the most with back pain.Heading into the final few hours and as the sun gave way to stars, the Yamaha Racing 81 bike was poised for a hard-earned 5th placing, until Stauffer noticed a small oil leak as he circulated for the final few laps of his stint.
He was forced to pit a lap early, and the team worked frantically to repair the leak and ready the bike for a run to home from Abe.Unfortunately, the extended stop saw a number of rival riders fly past, and the Yamaha Racing 81 machine re-joined the race in 9th place, which was maintained until the chequered flag.
And while the team’s impressive top 10 finish was commendable, they were left wondering what could have been after running so strongly in the top 5 for most the of race.Stauffer was pleased with his own performance and said the support and encouragement of the team had been fantastic.
"It was a great experience and I've been very fortunate to ride alongside Norick Abe in this epic event,” said Stauffer after the race. “Admittedly, I'm disappointed with the final placing for our team, but I suppose that's racing,” he continued. “We were holding 5th position comfortably and the end was in sight. I was on my final lap before coming in to the pit to refuel when the rear of the bike slipped, followed by my foot on the right footpeg.”
“I knew something wasn't right and when I looked down I saw oil on my foot, so I decided to cut straight in and return directly to the pits. The team worked well to cap the leak and have Norick back out on track within around six minutes, but unfortunately this cost us dearly,” explained Stauffer. “I'd like to thank the Yamaha Motor Company for the opportunity to join Yamaha Racing 81 in the 2007 Suzuka 8 Hour. Hopefully I've made an impression enough so I can come back and race it again next year. I had a lot of fun and learnt a lot from everyone.”
“Thanks also to YMA for all their support in the lead up and during the race. My back is fairly sore, but I've had a good rub from the team masseur and a good rest tonight will have be back in good form to wrap up the final round at Eastern Creek in a couple of weeks,” he finished.
2007 Suzuka 8 Hour Results.
1. T.Okada/C.Checa, Honda, 2:07.587.
2. K.Nakasuga/N.Osaki, Yamaha,2:07.806.
3. Y.Kagayama/K.Akiyoshi, Suzuki,2:07.969.
4. R.Kiyonari/J.Toseland, Honda,2:08.035.
5. S.Ito/Y.Teshima, Honda, 2:08.449.
6. T.Yasuda/Y.Konishi, Honda,2:08.642.
7. K.Tokudome/G.Kamada, Honda,2:08.855.
8. C.Kameya/R.Holland, Honda,2:09.149.
9. N.Abe/J.Stauffer, Yamaha,2:09.832.
10. A.Watanabe/D.Sakai, Suzuki,2:10.006.
1. Y.Kagayama/K.Akiyoshi, Suzuki, 216 laps
.2. T.Okada/C.Checa, Honda, 216 laps.
3. Y.Teshima/S.Itoh, Honda, 215 laps.
4. A.Watanabe/D.Sakai, Suzuki, 215 laps.
5. T.Yamaguchi/L.Camier, Honda, 212 laps
.6. K.Tokudome/G.Kamada, Honda, 211 laps.
7. V.Phillipe/M.Lagrive/J.DaCosta, Suzuki, 210 laps.
8. S.Iwata/Y.Sugai/H.Platacis, Honda,210 laps.
9. J.Stauffer/N.Abe, Yamaha, 210 laps.
10. Y.Takeda/K.Tsuda, Honda, 209 laps.