AP Honda Racing Thailand’s Muklada Sarapuech and Piyawat Patoomyos emerged as the strongest team to beat as the 2019 edition of the Suzuka 4 Hours Endurance flagged off under wet and windy weather at the Suzuka Circuit on July 27, 2019. The team’s success marked another record-breaking feat by Muklada as the first female rider to win the Suzuka 4 Hours.


1 Hour

The Thai duo started the race from second on the grid, having been overshadowed by young Indonesian rider Muhammad Faerozi’s dazzlingly fast laps during the free practice sessions and qualifiers.

A flying start by Faerozi put the 16-year-old Yamaha Indonesia rider in the lead. However, the slippery track conditions made it hard for the youngster to keep his position. By Lap 3, Muklada, first rider for the AP Honda Racing Thailand outfit, had made it to the front of the 50-rider group.

Muklada was soon engrossed in a battle for P1 against Japanese rival team Blue Max Katosensetsu + Speed heart.

Behind them, a long pitstop between Faerozi and team mate Maiku pushed them further down the pack.

Meanwhile, Astra Honda Racing Team had a big scare when Irfan Ardiansyah highsided on Lap 17. Irfan was able to nurse his damaged bike back into the pits, where the Astra Honda Racing Team mechanics raced against time to get the bike back out on track.


2 Hour

As the clock ticked down to the end of the first hour, Piyawat took over from Muklada. The upcoming Thai rider showed tremendous maturity as he put in consistent laps to keep their position at the front of the pack. By Lap 36, Piyawat held a 50-second lead at the front.

The weather worsened as the race continued. Team Yamaha & Ito Racing who had dropped to P31 at the end of the first hour, had managed to recoup of some of their losses. With two hours down and two hours to go, the team’s Japanese rider Maiku Watanuki had brought them up to P14.

Meanwhile, the heroic effort by the Astra Honda Racing Team mechanics had succeeded in putting Lucky Hendriansya back on the grid. The determined Indonesian team is gamely fighting on, determined to at least finish the race.


2 Hour 39 Minutes 27 Seconds

By the time Muklada went out on track for her second stint, the team had extended their lead by 2 laps. Similarly, Faerozi had clawed his way up to P5 with the podium finish in sight.

However, the rain progressively became heavier, prompting Race Direction to bring out the red flag at 2 hours 39 minutes and 27 minutes and subsequently declared the race as finished. This brought an anticipated exciting final hour to an anti-climatic end.

Team AP Honda Racing Thailand was declared the winners with 62 laps clocked at 2:39:27.577s, followed by team Green Club Nozuka in second (60 laps at 2:38:36.764s. In third place, professional amateurs Auto Life HANO & A-PLAN + RANRAN team realized a dream of a lifetime when they rode their 10-year-old CBR 600 to a podium finish.

Faerozi and Maiku netted a P9 finish for team Yamaha Indonesia & ITO Racing. Astra Honda Racing Team received a DNF as they must have finished at least 75% of the leader’s laps to be classified as a finisher.

The Suzuka Circuit has since confirmed that Muklada Sarapuech will enter the championship’s history as the first female rider to win the Suzuka 4 Hour.

“This is our third attempt at the Suzuka 4 Hour and we are very happy to have finally achieved our goal,” said Muklada at the post-race press conference.

Both Muklada and Piyawat also paid due credit to the AP Honda Racing Thailand mechanics, stressing that their smooth and short pitstops were critical to help them stay in the lead.