Honda Team Asia, represented by Azlan, former GP rider Makoto Tamada and Japanese ace Chojun Kameya, completed the race in 25th place out of 58 contending teams with a total time of 8:03'01.238s.
The team had initially aimed for a top 10 finish after having qualified for 10th spot during Saturday's 'Time-Attack' but unfortunately just after one lap first rider, Kameya was forced to pit-in due to technical issues. By the time he exited the pits, the team was in 56th place, with a long chasing game ahead of them.
Even so, the riders' spirit were not so easily broken. Each of them pushed hard to lap consistently within the 2:11s, lapping within the same range as the riders in the top-10. Through their combined efforts, Azlan, Tamada and Kameya successfully muscled their way through the midfield, reaching 26th position in the fifth hour of the race.
The riders were hoping to further improve their position when Azlan's teammate in the PETRONAS Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) Ryuichi Kiyonari crashed in the sixth hour. The crash brought out the safety car and the race had to be red flagged. When the race re-started, the team's hopes to further improve on their race position were hampered by resurfacing technical issues.
Although slightly disappointed, Azlan Shah was still content and happy to see the team finish 25th saying it was a hard-fought battle from start to finish.
"The intensity of the 8-hour challenge is just immense. Naturally, we feel a bit down by not meeting the goals but we had a really great race and the entire team is really happy. We did the impossible by fighting our way from the back of the pack to midfield while dealing with technicalities with the clutch system at the same time. Furthermore we survived the entire duration of the race which was something really hard to do because 16 teams dropped out. If given the opportunity, I would like to return again next year and try to finish on the podium," said an elated Azlan.
When asked how his debut in the 8-hour endurance race contributes to his career, Azlan commented, "It helps me become a better rider. Going through the elements for the past month gave me added insight understanding the race bike and its characteristics, improve my riding and communicate better with team personnels. All in all racing in the 8-hour has been nothing but educating and hopefully, it will help me become stronger in the upcoming ARRC round in Zhuhai, China next weekend," he said.
Victory went to F.C.C. TSR Honda represented by Kosuke Akiyoshi, Jonathan Rea and Tadayuki Okada with 8:01.35.450s followed by Tatsuya Yamaguchi, Yuki Takahashi and Yusuke Teshima of TOHO Racing with Moriwaki in second place, 8:01'40.277s. Team YAMAHA FRANCE GMT94 MICHELIN YAMALUBE riders, David Checa and Kenny Foray completed the podium line-up with 8:03'13.469s.