John McGuinness was back in action for the Honda TT Legends team at the weekend, contesting the second round of the Endurance World Championship at Suzuka, Japan where along with team-mates Michael Rutter and Simon Andrews, he finished 22nd at the end of the 8-Hour race.
The prestigious event again saw an ultra-competitive field with some of the world’s best riders and machines on track and after two busy days of practice and qualifying, John and the team qualified in 29th place. With hot and humid conditions throughout, the team-mates were very evenly matched as they all posted lap times in the 2m12s bracket, Andrews the quickest at 2m12.604s, Rutter on 2m12.808s and John recording 2m12.954s.
The race got underway at 11am on Sunday in sweltering 36°C heat and Rutter took the first stint around the 5.8km circuit moving the team up to a strong 16th. Andrews then took over but halfway through his stint he had to make an unscheduled pit stop due to clutch problems and with the clutch replaced within 14 minutes, John took to the track with the team now having dropped down the order. For the remainder of the race, John and his team-mates made steady progress through the field and, despite suffering a rear wheel puncture, they’d moved up to 25th place as the race entered its final hour. John had the honour of completing the race and although he had to pull in to switch to wet tyres when rain began to fall, he brought the bike home in a solid 22nd place. Sadly though for the team, the result meant they failed to add to their points tally despite their valiant efforts.
Speaking later, a disappointed but philosophical John commented’ “It’s been a tough weekend and to come away with no points is really disappointing as we’ve all worked really hard. There wasn’t much between us during qualifying and 2m12s laps were pretty respectable given the unbelievable quality of field so we were more than hopeful of climbing up the leaderboard during the race.”
“We had a good fuel strategy and we were looking good for seven stops but we had a few issues – the clutch and the flat tyre – that meant we gave minutes away which were impossible to get back. We were outside the top 50 so to come back to 22nd is a great effort but I just felt we deserved a bit more. On the plus side, this is my third Suzuka 8 Hour but it’s the first time I’ve done the final stint and that was pretty special. The atmosphere here really is fantastic and the Japanese fans have been superb throughout.”
The next round of the Endurance World Championship will be the Oschersleben 8 Hour in Germany on the weekend of August 17-18.
Picture by Honda Racing