A year after the 18 hours endurance race had been held, the 24 hours endurance race was held. Fifteen motorcycles finished the 24 hours race. Among those who retired, included the two on the Kamogawa Team from Kyushu, and POP from Tokyo (both were CB77). Things were different than the past year. The race included future heroes such as Morio Sumiya, Tadao Suzuki, Akiyasu Motohashi, Yoichi Oguma, Tetsuya Hishigi, and Masahiro Wada. It was an advancement in the history of Japanese road racing, which had been an important outcome of the Suzuka Circuit.
The CB72, the product which challenged Honda’s prestige, had been generating great sales. On August 1 and 2, 1964, five years after the CB72 was introduced to the market, the first Suzuka 18 hours durability race was held. Unlike other global GPs, their goal was to popularize motor sports among the general public. The fact that the Suzuka 8 hours durability race has been accepted today proves that their goal has been achieved. For POP, it was their first big chance. Fifteen to sixteen members arrived from Kyushu. The members consisted of Akira Matsumoto, Seiji Ogata, Kazuo Aoki, and CB77 in the 251cc category, and Fukuo Kuratome, Watanabe, Fukumi and CB72 in the 250cc category. The coach for both teams was POP. The Kuratome team which kept in second place after the 120th round, retired before its 270th round. On the other hand, the Matsumoto team was immediately following the CB77 from the Honda Laboratory Team. Presumably from their pressure, the Honda team cease three hours before its finish, which enabled the Matsumoto team to finish in first place.
The beginning of the Honda’s sports car was from T360 and S500 in 1962. The S600 which appeared in 1965, is counted as one of the best car in history of Japan. Originally, POP did not favor 4 wheeled vehicle, but this one had an engine that attracted the engineers. The 4 wheeled vehicle with double over head cam engine was a reflection of Soichiro Honda’s challenge. In those days, 2 cycle machines were dominant. Even with meticulous tuning, the possibility of the CB of POP winning was small. This increased his attention in 4 wheeled vehicle. The result was a great success.
Mamoru Moriwaki, after winning the 10th and 12th Japan Motor Cycle Clubmen Race in the junior 250cc category, entered in the car race. He won the All Japan Fuji 1000km race on July 26, 1970, and the Japan Grand Prix (GTS1) in 1971, both which proved the potential of Yoshimura S600.
The top group ran up the high speed Dunlop Bridge. David Emde troublelessly steered the TZ. Masahiro Wada followed with KR of the GP machine. Cooley was on the Yoshimura GS1000. The three machines in the 8 hours endurance race were entirely different. During the race, KR fell behind and retired. TZ was also in trouble. The top, as anticipated, was Yoshimura. It was a surprise that a 4 cycle up-handle reconstruction of a store-bought machine defeated the GP machines. 8 hours after, on the honor platform there was Yoshimura. Yoshimura had endured several troubles in the clutches and front fork bolt to win the race. They knew what it would take to win.
It was before starting of the memorable first annual 8 hours endurance race (1978). In pole position, starting from the left there was mechanic Asakawa (at the time, he was a spectator and not a member), POP ,mechanic Oya, and late Shohei Kato. The pit in the background appeared leisurely without the team staff and press that would be there if it were today.
Ron Pierce, POP, Wes Cooley, mechanic Oya, Yumiko, mechanic Asakawa were all waiting to start. Although they had won the previous year’s 8 hours durability race, there was no guarantee that they would do the same. They were facing various difficulties caused by new changes. They were not ready for a race. The machine they were using was the same as the year before, GS1000, with a minor change in the drawn back up-handle and order-made frame. In the preliminary rounds, they suffered trouble in the brakes. They blew the engine and were forced to retire. Racers such as Graham Crosby of Moriwaki and Hideo Kanaya with his TZ made the race exciting. On the other hand, there were many retirements too. The favorites were almost all gone by the end. The winner was Tony Hutton and Mike Cole of Honda Australia. Hutton had finished third place on Moriwaki the previous year. Honda’s team had sprinters as opposed to those with stamina.
Cooley’s steering form appeared to become compact with the machine. They were able to meet POP’s expectations even while setting up a off-tuned machine. The relationship between Yoshimura and the riders seemed to be by far stronger than Japanese sense of duty. They had a strong bond of faith between them. In proof, Pierce had pushed in a machine with a blown-up engine back to the pit. The riders also loved Yoshimura and Yoshimura’s machines.
It was few more laps for Yoshimura’s second victory. From this year, Crosby was racing in the World GP but he made a special participation in Suzuka. There was England GP going on at the same time but he chose to ride Yoshimura’s machine. He took care of night riding which Cooley did not prefer. Actually there was no choice because Hansford and Lawson was only 40 seconds behind them. Team Kawasaki(Lawson and Hansford) had a collision with Yoshimura’s substitution team rider Cole. Yoshimura also had some trouble with the brake pad and took two minutes. They had absolutely no extra time. This was the closest race ever in 8 hours endurance race history. From this race, Yoshimura got the no.12 on their machine.
After battling for 8 hours, Crosby and Cooley brought POP to the honor platform. From left Lawson and Hansford. Crosby with champagne and Cooley behind POP. At right Morno and Fontagne who got 3rd place won the first title of world endurance race.
The sky was clear up to the preliminary rounds. The rain started pouring at dawn, becoming harder and harder. It was the large Typhoon Number 10 that directly hit the Honshu area. The extra momentum of the big 1000 cc machine caused itself to glide over the surface of water. Even the best riders of the world were forceless facing the typhoon. The Yoshimura machine fell disgracefully at the straight course in front of the grandstand. The rider was last year’s champion, David Aldana. After falling, Aldana kept in the race although he could not bring out the full power of Yoshimura. Six hours after start, the race obtained the checker as the typhoon was now close by Suzuka. The top finishers were the test riders from the four domestic manufacturers. Those with experience in the rain, were the winners. However, Yoshimura, with Aldana and Wes Cooley, did finish the race in sixth place.
There was tragic news before the season. At the Suzuki Ryuyo test course, Shohei Kato fell during set up and died. Overcoming the sad news, the Yoshimura machine appeared in renewed style. The name was Yoshimura Testarossa Italia; the color was pink and white. Riders also wore pink racing suits to convey a new image. In spite of all that, they could not overpower the typhoon. Finishing in sixth place possibly could have not been achieved if it were not Yoshimura.
This was the last 8 hours endurance race for 1000cc bike. Honda have been racing with 850cc and they were working on 750cc which was the base for next year. Since it was the last chance for Suzuki and Kawasaki, they had a lot of confidence, but pole position was Yoshimura. Yoshimura’s machine was made up of Yoshimura Suzuki engine and Moriwaki frame which was super combined machine. But things did not go too well. They had an engine trouble and ended up with the result of 13th place. The first place was French Suzuki which used Yoshimura engine.
The year 1984 was turning point for all the teams. It was the first race for 750cc bike except Team Honda. In the year 1983, they battled with 850cc machine which was disadvantage for Honda but thinking of next year, they were little ahead of other teams. Crosby and Wheelings had GSX750E which was Yoshimura’s new machine. Talking about turning point, F1 class was officially approved by All Japan Road Race. From this year, Yoshimura had second machine other than Crosby’s. On the final round, Crosby blew up his engine after 3 hours. After few laps later, Ikeda(Yoshimura rider)also blew his engine. Two of the machines were done due to the same reason.
Second team riders were always Japanese from this year. They were Nao Ikeda and Noboru Miura. They were supposed to be the fastest Japanese riders but they had engine trouble and had to retire.
Yoshimura’s machine came out in All Japan Road Race GP. The competition riders were Noboru Miura, the international B class champ, and Nao Ikeda who has two years of experience in GP races. They were both vivacious riders so their speed were guaranteed. They took pole position race after race but the final results were different. They were still suffering from finishing the race without any problem due to the lack of experience.
In 1984, Team Moriwaki’s Shunji Yatsushiro won the All Japan F1 Championship. The other competitors were Masaki Tokuno, Shinichi Ueno, and Satoshi Tsujimoto. Tsujimoto who won the first race at Sugo was improving rapidly toward the champion. His previous results barely made the upgrade to international A class but Tsujimoto’s talent and Yoshimura’s machine matched perfectly. Honda, Moriwaki, and Yamaha were suffering from their own problem but Yoshimura had no major problem. This year was a great success for Tsujimoto and Yoshimura.
F3 was bit tougher than F1 for Yoshimura. Honda’s RVF, Youichi Yamamoto, was unbelievably fast. When Yamamoto was out of shape, Tokuno, the second rider kept the first place. Plus HRC got Noboru Miura from Yoshimura. They were almost invincible. (30 Kita, 55 Tsujimoto)
Until the last race of the year, HRC was still undefeated. Every team was after HRC. But Kita declared victory before the race with confidence. The race was dead heat between Yamamoto. Kita barely passed him few laps before goal. It was the strong challenging spirit which led Yoshimura to drink the victory wine.
Team Yoshimura was excited with new riders and new machine. Kevin was his second trial on Suzuka 8 hours endurance race. When Kevin first came to Japan, he had weird lean out riding form. Slowly but definitely, he was improving his ability. Kita came to Yoshimura as a test rider from Kawasaki. He thought Team Yoshimura was the best place for him to show his ability. Honda’s Kinoshita was right after these two riders. Previous year, Honda RVF was absolutely strong but this year was different. Yoshimura’s new machine GSX-R was as good as RVF or even better. Shwantz and Crosby got into 3rd place, Honda’s Kinoshita and Abe got into 2nd place, and the first trial for Kita and Tsujimoto was 6th place. POP was dissatisfied but result was not bad.
Kevin’s riding form was very attractive to the viewers. It seems like he swings down his long legs at the corner with lean out position. Crosby’s riding was normal and smooth.
It was his first world race when Kevin got the driver’s point. His ability was highly recognized by the people. Honda RVF got the checker flag with GP riders Gardner and Salon. Team Yoshimura got in to 3rd place with Shwantz and Tsujimoto.
One scene at final race. Second from the front row Asakawa, Miyazaki, Oshima, Yohei Kato(deceased Shohei Kato’s son), and Konno. On the back row Fujio, Tsujimoto, POP, Yumiko, Takagi, and etc. Kita has left the team this year and the members have started to change little by little. Tsujimoto went Daytona to start his new challenge. New power was absolutely necessary for Japanese races. The new members were Oshima and Miyazaki. Miyazaki concentrated on 400cc class but Oshima had to change his schedule due to Tsujimoto’s injury. Tsujimoto’s injury made Oshima to participate in F3. Miyazaki attended F1 race when Tsujimoto did not. Eventhough Tsujimoto missed few races, he became the F1 champion and Oshima was the second. These results proved the strongness of Yoshimura.
After coming back from Daytona, Tsujimoto was invincible in both F1 and F3. If that incident did not occur, there would have been no Honda’s outrageous victory in F3. But in the case of F1, his injury didn’t bother him at all. He had good experience at Daytona which led him to two consecutive championship.
Starting from the third place, Yoshimura’s first team riders, Kevin and Ohshima, had no opportunity to change the rider and retired due to the engine trouble. Everyone thought that Yoshimura’s 8 hours endurance race was over but the second team riders Gary and Takayoshi was showing their full potential. After 4 hours, the top rider Dominique had an accident and Team Yoshimura was in first place. Everybody thought Yoshimura’s 3rd victory but Takayoshi collided with the slow pace rider and went out of the course. After Takayoshi’s accident, YAMAHA took the first place and the first checker in the end. But Takayoshi picked up his bike and started running again. Team Yoshimura barely got second place. But after the goal, Takayoshi had serious fatigue which made him collapse at the same time. It was the best moment ever in 8 hours endurance race to give such impression.
After Takayoshi dominated 4 hours endurance race, he upgraded to international A class race. He was the only one who was running at the top group at 8 hours endurance race. After his impressive results, he became a mechanic of Yoshimura and helped them greatly.
Tsujimoto left All Japan Road Race and departed to AMA. But things did not go too well. Tsujimoto collided with his teammate Kevin Shwantz and got a major damage on his neck. It was a big shock to Team Yoshimura, Japan, and himself. Without Tsujimoto, Yoshimura had to make up their new stradegy. Few of the young riders were improving rapidly. Ohshima and Takayoshi was the two who led Yoshimura to the 3 consecutive champion. Ando and Nakamura who also improved rapidly led Yoshimura to 2 consecutive champion at 4 hours endurance race.
Second year on international A class race, Ohshima’s appearance looked veteran with No.2 on his machine. On the other hand, Takayoshi looked rookie waiting with Ohshima at waiting area. Few years later Takayoshi got off the bike and worked at Yoshimura as mechanics, spare parts man, truck driver, and just about everything.
When this kind of incident happens, Yoshimura’s pit was in pandemonium. They have no time to rest trying to figure out what was wrong whether it was the rider or the machine.
On the honor platform, second place Pollen and Shwantz, first place Lainy and McGee are celebrating. Third place Samin and Morilas are out of camera lens.
Doug Pollen came to Japan for real. Yoshimura and Doug have started to fill up the new page of Yoshimura’s history. Knowing the condition of the machine, he controlled his throttle perfectly to ride as fast as he could. His riding was esteemed by everybody. Pollen said that his fastness come from combination of European and American style. He was the first rider to win in both F1 and F3.
Due to the bad condition of the main rider, Takayoshi was getting close to the top group. Takayoshi was riding quickly but accurately. This manuever made him catch up to 5th place. The first checker was Villa and Salon. This year they also became the champ of FIM endurance race.
This is the second time to have combination of Doug and Kevin. Their teamwork was perfect. Pollen suddenly came to pit and said something to the pit crew. They had problem with running out of gas. The real reason was that the choke was up all the time when they were running. The first checker was Team French Honda. The second place was Oshima and Miyazaki. It was quite a while for Japanese pair to stand on the honor platform. The defending champ Yamaha had an engine trouble and retired. Honda RVF Michael Dohan was way ahead of others but collapsed and retired. It was really an simple error for Yoshimura.
The 8 hours endurance race was rained. They have not had rain since the Typhoon Number 10 that hit in 1982. What was different this time was that the rain kept coming and going unpredictably. The tires were changed from rain tires to slicks to rain tires again. Regardless of the unexpected change in tires, those fighting for the top were Wayne Gardner, Michael Duhan of Honda and Kevin Maggy and Doug Chandler of Yamaha. On the other hand, the two Yoshimuras with Tom Kipp and Masanao Aoki on one and Steve Martin and Mat Blair on the other had endured a troublesome eight hours. The two machines both fell, caught fire, but were able to return to the pit. Their results were ninth place and 28th place. Behind the scores, there was drama in the 8 hours race.
Masanao Aoki and the pit crew were calmly waiting for Tom Kipp to return to the pit on schedule. However, when Tom fell just before finish, there was commotion. Tom connected the detached fuel tube to return to the pit. There was no time for a full repair. A new machine with its fuel tank connected by masking tape was there. Aoki, puzzled by its new look, left the pit for the ninth place checker.
The first trouble happened during Martin’s ride. A fall and fire. In that condition, Martin, determined to stay in the race attempted to return to the pit. The damage could not be repaired immediately, but it was time to show the pit crew’s capabilities. With repair, they finished the 8 hours race. The 8 hours endurance race is a chance to view the skills of the mechanics creating the final results.
Masanao Aoki who was getting used to the team paired up with Kenji Osaka. When they were at Novice class they were in same team, Mirage Kanto. The number 12 of Yoshimura was passed onto two youngster. They got 4th position on the trial. Gardner made a wonderful Pole to finish. He declared that it is going to be his last 8 hours endurance race. He won 4 times since first win in 1981. Team Yoshimura was going after Gardner but they end up retiring due to the slip.
On the race at Tsukuba, Aoki barely made the honor platform. Champion was Honda’s Takeishi. Yamaha’s Nagai came into second place.
Coming up from the corner, 3 GSX-R(from front Osaka, Viera, and Barros). Past few years Suzuki did not use Yoshimura’s engine but used their own engine. Since their engine was not complete, they had a lot of problems and had to retire few races. But after few years, they were catching up rapidly and their engine was as good as Yoshimura’s.
Since the first partnership from 1990, Aoki and Osaka paired up for the third time. It was their second tie up in Yoshimura. But things did not go too well. Toward 130R corner is the best place to accelerate in full throttle. There were many riders who mismanipulated the handling and turned over at this corner this year.
Practice trial. Two youngsters, Aoki trying to overcome Osaka, is battling in the practice trial. They look like they have same riding style but not. They have absolutely different style. Honda and Yamaha had only one rider. Yoshimura was pretty satisfied with absolutely two different riders with different characters. Nagai from Yamaha won few races this year but ended up being 2nd place. The champion was Kitagawa from Kawasaki with ZXR-7. After this year, F1 class had changed to Superbike class and Yoshimura was to make their new step.
1997 was held in rain. Serizawa and Konishi pair was running smoothly among the top group retreating, and ran in 3rd position. Konishi spinned and brought back his machine by pushing to pit. The rider pit out after the immediate repair by mechanics. The rider finally retired at 5:00 o’clock even though he ran very fast after pitout.
Yoshimura had a lot of troubles racing with GSX1300R Hayabusa, a new model of SUZUKI motorcycle. The sprocket broke due to overpower of engine during SUZUKA 200 km endurance race. Both right and left sides of cowling went off in the test run because of low bank angle. But the engine was over 200 horsepower and brought the acceleration potentiality to YOSHIMURA Hayabusa with heavy weight.
Manabu Kamata, main rider, and Naoto Kokura, pair rider, ride Yoshimura Hayabusa in SUZUKA 8 hours. They finished the race although there were several troubles, such as loss of silencer band and silencer itself. Team Yoshimura won 16th position in total and won a championship in X-formula class. Kamata won champion several times with YOSHIMURA Hayabusa, and he became champion in X-formula class series champion.
A bad accident occurred. Kokura, a rider from last year, crashed during the test riding in SUZUKA. Unfortunately, he passed away. Osamu Deguchi took his place and won champion in X-formula class. In SUZUKA 8 hours, Osamu Deguchi / Shawn Giles rode eight hours with no big problems and got 6th positition in total and became defending champion in X-formula class.
Deguchi broke his hand bone during Suzuka 8 hours and canceled to participate in the second half of All Japan Championship series. However, he ranked 2nd in All Japan Championships X-formula class. Yoshimura decided not to ride Hayabusa anymore. The Yoshimura Hayabusa is a big milestone in Yoshimura history.
Yoshimura participated in X-formula class with new machine this year. Yoshimura Tornado S-1 is based on SUZUKI GSX-R1000. S-1 with lighter weight and higher bank angle was more aggresive than Hayabusa. S-1 had a time much faster than Hayabusa X in test run in SUZUKA. TEAM YOSHIMURA had a crash at spoon corner in the final of SUZUKA 8 hours and lost.