KRT on the podium in EWC
Suzuka, Japan, August 8th - Although the SRC team failed to break into the top ten at the Suzuka Eight Hours, the factory Kawasaki of Rea, Lowes and Haslam did make it onto the podium.
The last time Gilles Stafler's team visited the Suzuka circuit, back in 2019, they took their first world championship. A magnificent moment that unfortunately they were unable to replicate. This year, the Japanese track did not bring the SRC Kawasaki team the same joy. Twelfth on the grid, the number 11 Kawasaki finished the race in fifteenth position, eleven laps behind the winners. “We knew that with a privateer bike designed for 24-hour races we would suffer against the factory machines," commented Randy de Puniet. “But we thought we could take advantage of our pace and the vagaries of endurance racing to finish in the top ten. Unfortunately, that wasn’t not the case.” Irrespective of a small crash by the former MotoGP rider at the beginning of the race, which cost his team barely a minute, the Kawasaki of the SRC team never managed to find the pace they achieved in practice.
“I can't explain why," admitted Gilles Stafler. “It was hot, but it was also very hot at the beginning of the week and that didn't prevent Florian Marino from posting a time of 2'09"2. During the race, we struggled to run in 2'10s". We lacked grip at the front and the rear, maybe because of Saturday’s rain..." On top of that there was a chain tension problem and a handlebar that had to be tightened. “We suffered," concluded the SRC team boss, "It's not the result we were hoping for and we'll have to do much better at the Bol d'Or". As they did three years ago, Kawasaki entered a factory bike in Suzuka this year, run by the KRT team. Ridden by Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes and Leon Haslam, and managed by Guim Roda, the bike won last time out in Japan. This time, the WSBK riders had to be satisfied with second place on the podium. “A more than honourable result," commented the six-times British world champion. “Unlike Honda who entered a machine developed for Suzuka and run by a dedicated team, we came with our WSBK bike and a team unused to the specificities of endurance racing. So we can be proud of what we achieved.”