Suzuka 8H: History Lesson

Posted: 24th July 2017

Photos of Previous 39 Winners – From Mike Baldwin and Wes Cooley to Bradley Smith, Pol Espargaro, and Katsuyuki Nakasuga – Circuit History and Landmark Dates – Lap Records

Click here to access the official site photos of the previous 39 winners of the Suzuka 8 Hour Race:

Circuit History

Since its creation in 1962, the Suzuka circuit has hosted many international competitions including the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Motorcycle Grand Prix and the Motorcycle Endurance World Championship. This circuit is one of the few tracks to offer an 8 hour race over 5.821 km. The first edition of Suzuka 8 Hours was contested in July 1978; the race was won by Mike Baldwin with Wes Cooley.

Among the other winners of the Suzuka 8 Hours: Graeme Crosby (1980), Hervé Moineau (1983), Wayne Gardner (1985,'86, '91 and '92), Dominique Sarron (1989), Kevin Magee (1988), Wayne Rainey (1988), Eddie Lawson (1990), Mick Doohan (1991), Daryl Beattie (1992), Scott Russell (1993), Tadayuki Okada (1995), Noriyuki Haga (1996), Shinichi Ito (1997,1998, 2006 and 2011) and Valentino Rossi (2001). Dajiro Kato, already a winner in 2000, was the last Grand Prix rider to step up to the plate in 2002, until 2015, when the MotoGP riders made a return winning with the victory of Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith (Yamaha Factory).

Landmark Dates

  • September 1962: Opening of the Suzuka circuit.
  • 30 July 1978: the 1st edition of Suzuka 8 Hours won by Wes Cooley and Mike Baldwin (Suzuki Yoshimura)
  • 1 August 1982: 1st Japanese victory at Suzuka with Shigeo Iijima and Shinji Hagiwara (Honda).
  • 1 November 1987: first Formula 1 Grand Prix.

    Endurance Lap Records

  • Race lap: 2'07.943 - Musashi Harc Pro (Honda CBR1000RR) Ryuichi Kiyonari in 2012
  • Qualifying lap: 2'06.000 - Yamaha Factory Racing team (Yamaha R1) Pol Espargaro in 2015

    2016 Suzuka 8H Winners

  • Yamaha Factory Racing Team (YZF-R1) Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Pol Espargaro and Alex Lowes; 218 laps.

    Words: Martin Gelder, Suzuka Circuit - Images: Suzuka Circuit