Honda hasn’t won the Suzuka 8 Hours world endurance race since 2014.
The Suzuka 8 hours was once a race that Honda absolutely dominated because of competitive spirit or just because they own the track and nobody was going to beat them on home turf. It all started to go down the disposal when Honda fielded Casey Stoner at the 8 Hour where a mechanical problem on the CBR1000RW put Stoner on the ground, in a crash that could have conceivably killed him if he had continued to roll out on the racing surface post-crash.
The days of celebrations and smiles days are long gone for Honda at the 8 Hour. They are mounting a big effort in 2019 to try and stop Yamaha from winning the event five times in a row. Honda will field Takumi Takahashi, Stefan Bradl and Ryuichi Kiyonari on the CBR in 2019. Red Bull is the sponsor.
Moreover, Honda is rumored, yet again, to be building a new CBR1000RR for WSBK competition in 2020 or 2021.
It’s a sad and familiar story at this point: Honda threatens a world-beating Superbike is on the way, everybody prepares for a new level of Honda performance but once the new bike arrives the team realize that–after reviewing pages and chapters from the parts book–that it’s basically the old bike with a few updates. And it is just as far from the front as the old bike, or worse.
Can Honda turn this around? Of course. Will they, though?
Also from the Suzuka file: Kawasaki will again field a team at the 8 Hours. In 2019 Kawasaki will enter Jon Rea, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Leon Haslam. Last year they finished third after setting pole for the race.