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This Experimental Suzuki GSX-R1000R Will Run At The Suzuka 8 Hours

It might seem hard to believe, but it's been almost two years since Suzuki made the shock announcement that it was pulling out of international motorcycle racing. Except, of course, that didn't materialize, which you'll already know if you're a fan of the FIM Endurance World Championship.

You see, by December of that very year, Suzuki had also announced that the Yoshimura SERT (Suzuki Endurance Racing Team) would remain to contest that series in 2023. The team showed strong progression over the entirety of the four-race season, finishing seventh at Round One - the 24 Heures Motos; fourth at Round Two in Spa; 11th at the Suzuka 8 Hours; and capping the season with a stunning victory at the Bol d'Or. 

In a move that further cements the idea that you can take a team out of racing, but you can't take the love of racing out of the team, a group comprised primarily of Suzuki employees has come together to form Team Suzuki CN Challenge. 

Together with Yoshimura Japan, the Team Suzuki CN Challenge members will be entering an Experimental Class bike in the 2024 Suzuka 8 Hours round. The bike is a Suzuki GSX-R1000R, and it will be powered using a special "40-percent bio-sourced sustainable fuel." 

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Like every other consumable and part that participates in an FIM event, this fuel has been certified by the FIM. However, since it's not the official fuel of the EWC series, the vehicle must be entered in the Experimental Class.

As it turns out, the Experimental Class is extra cool for the Team Suzuki CN Challenge folks to enter, because it means they can try out a whole host of other alternative bits and bobs in an effort to try to make racing more sustainable in the long run.

In its official announcement, Team Suzuki CN Challenge lists eight separate categories in which it says that its bike features sustainable items. There's the fuel, of course, sourced from Elf. There's also a Yoshimura Japan muffler; Bridgestone racing tires that utilize both recycled and recyclable materials; bio-sourced Motul engine oil; recycled carbon fiber fairings from JHI; flax fiber composite fenders; steel brake discs that don't use heat treatment and low-dust brake pads from Sunstar; and an LFP bike battery (that's lithium ferrous phosphate) and garage battery from ELIIY Power.

So far, Team Suzuki CN Challenge hasn't announced its rider roster for the 2024 Suzuka 8 Hours as of March 27, 2024. However, the team will be led by Shinichi Sahara, and the race isn't scheduled to take place until July 19 through 21, 2024. So there's time.

The Real Deal, Or Just Greenwashing?

According to Team Suzuki CN Challenge, the fuel it will use is Elf Moto R40, which it says is made of "40 percent bio-sourced material" without further specification of where that bio-sourced material comes from. 

We're not chemistry experts. While we'd like to believe in the possibility and hope that the idea of biofuels as a category provides, we also can't ignore the fact that not all biofuels are as green as some might want you to think. 

As just one example, an explosive investigative report from Pro Publica and the Guardian in 2023 found that "the production of one of the fuels [produced by Chevron and marketed as a biofuel] could emit air pollution that is so toxic, one out of four people exposed to it over a lifetime could get cancer."

So, as is often the case with many things in life, you want to have hope, but there's also ample reason to be skeptical. 

It's tempting to put your feet down, stop moving, and say "I'm not going" when the answers presented are less than perfect.

However, when you let the perfect be the enemy of the good, you also halt much-needed forward momentum. Who wants to do that? Not us.

A study published in the February 1, 2022 issue of the scientific journal Applied Energy, produced by a group of scientists from two universities in Spain, compared a total of 72 different biofuels that were available at the time to assess their sustainability.

The study turned up a multitude of results, including the need to evaluate the effectiveness of any biofuel's sustainability by considering the entire lifecycle, from sourcing and production to combustion. The study's authors also noted that "the selection of the carbon source proved to be the most important decision, highlighting the need to consider regional aspects related to soil and climate before promoting a certain biofuel."

Balancing all levels of cost, from environmental and societal ones to economic ones, is imperative to furthering sustainability goals across motorsport and beyond.

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