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Honda in celebratory mood 10 Oct 2004

John Surtees (GBR) with his Honda RA300.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Race, Suzuka, Japan, 10 October 2004

The focus at Suzuka has been more on machines than people this weekend, as circuit owner Honda celebrate their 40th anniversary of involvement in Formula One racing.

This morning John Surtees, Aguri Suzuki, Jacques Lafitte, Satoru Nakajima and Kousuke Matsuura will demonstrate several Honda-powered Formula One cars.

The RA272 was Honda’s second Formula One car and their first winner, taking Richie Ginther to victory in Mexico City in 1965 in the last-ever race of the 1.5 litre championship.

Either the RA300 (the ‘Hondola’ created quickly by John Surtees and driven by him to a dramatic victory in the 1967 Italian GP) or the 301 will run, together with an ex-Nelson Piquet Lotus 100T, an ex-Piquet/Mansell Williams FW11 and an ex-Senna/Berger McLaren MP4/6.

The cars have been on display all weekend (together with a McLaren MP4/5 and a Larrousse Lola Lamborghini) and have aroused tremendous interest from the highly enthusiastic spectators, who flooded back into the circuit in their thousands after yesterday’s closure due to the imminence of Typhoon 22.

Everything that might have blown away was dismantled and packed away as a precaution, but some intensive work has seen the circuit reconstructed in time for this morning’s pre-qualifying session.