The Factory Kawasaki team has been classified as the winner of the incident-packed 2019 Suzuka 8H race.
Team Green had a stranglehold on the race as it entered the dying stages, with WSBK riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam putting in strong rides to build up a healthy lead over the Factory Yamaha #21 Yamaha bike and Factory Honda #33 machines.
With minutes to go, Rea was riding the final stint when the rain began to come down, adding more tension to an already close race. And then all hell broke loose as the the #2 SERT Suzuki let go of its engine heading into Turn 3. Instead of leaving the track and pulling off, the Suzuki rider instead chose to stay on the racing line, cruising round the circuit and depositing oil on track, which Rea hit and crashed with just two minutes left on the clock.
The race was red-flagged and Rea was unable to remount, leaving Alex Lowes on the #21 Yamaha to cross the line.
The crash meant nobody knew who had won. TV declared that the #21 Yamaha of Lowes, Michael van der Mark and Katsuyuki Nakasuga had won, yet the official timing at the circuit announced the win had gone to the #10 Kawasaki team of Rea, Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu (who did not complete a stint during the race).
After a lengthy wait Race Direction declared that the #21 Yamaha team were the winners as Rea had failed to make it back to parc ferme within the required five-minute window, with #33 Honda second and the #1 FCC TSR Honda squad promoted to third.
However, Kawasaki immediately appealed against the result, arguing that the result should be taken from the last completed lap in the instance of a red flag being shown for a clean-up operation. As Race Direction had declared the result based on those who had made it back to pitlane within the five-minute window, a regulation which doesn’t exist in EWC racing as it does in WSBK and MotoGP, Kawasaki argued that that the result should have been declared based on the finishing order from the last completed lap and the five-minute rule disregarded.
After heated discussions, Race Direction upheld the appeal and the #10 team of Rea, Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu (who did not complete a stint during the race) were declared the winners, claiming victory by 18.720 seconds and handing Kawasaki its first Suzuka success since 1993.