Kawasaki shooting for third Suzuka 8 Hours victory
While the 5.821km Suzuka circuit itself was opened in the September of 1962, the Suzuka 8 Hour first came about in 1978 and it quickly became the most important race for production based bikes in the world.
American duo Wes Cooley and Mike Baldwin won that inaugural duel on July 30, 1978, on a Yoshimura backed GS1000 Suzuki.
Australia planted its flag at Suzuka in 1979 when a Team Honda Australia squad consisting of Tony Hatton and Mick Cole rode a CB900 to victory.
New Zealand took their first top step on the rostrum the following year when Kiwi Graeme Crosby partnered with American Wes Cooley to win the race on a Yoshimura GS1000 Suzuki.
Honda are by far the most successful manufacturers in the history of the race with 27 wins. While Yamaha have been the most successful brand at Suzuka in recent years their overall tally still only numbers eight victories while Suzuki have five wins.
Until 2019, Kawasaki had only ever won the prestigious event once and that was some 26 years before when Aaron Slight and Scott Russell piloted a ZXR750R to victory. In 2019 Kawasaki were on the top step again after Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam piloted the KRT ZX-10RR to victory. The third member of the team, Toprak Razgatlioglu, did not ride at the event but was still part of the winning team.
The 2020 edition of the race was cancelled due to the pandemic but Kawasaki are out to back up their success in 2021 with a three-man team featuring both KRT WorldSBK riders and a former WSS600 championship winner. Running under the banner of “Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8H”, the official factory entry will seek success in the 2021 FIM Endurance World Championship “Coca-Cola” Suzuka 8 Hours event.
Fielding the new 2021 Ninja ZX-10RR, the Kawasaki entry for this year’s Suzuka event will be guided by Provec, the company that manages Kawasaki’s World SBK team, KRT. The three-man squad is entirely populated with previous Suzuka winners in the form of Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes plus rising star Lucas Mahias who, having previously won the WSS600 Championship, has moved to the WorldSBK stage riding for Puccetti Kawasaki.
“I am so excited that I will be part of KRT and Kawasaki factory taking part in the 2021 Suzuka 8 Hour race. I’ve been on the podium four times now at Suzuka, and my fondest memory was winning the race for Kawasaki in 2019. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do the race in 2020 due to the global pandemic going on, but we’ll be back in 2021 and I promise I will be making my best efforts to do the best for Kawasaki and all our fans.”
“I’m delighted that I’ll be part of the KRT Kawasaki factory racing team for the 2021 Suzuka 8 Hours. Already I’ve been on the winning team three times at Suzuka. It’s a fantastic event and a really great circuit – one of my favourites. Now I’ll have the chance to push for a Kawasaki win on the latest Ninja ZX-10RR. I’m really looking forward to being part of this famous race again. We have a great team, and the Ninja is an amazing machine.”
“I’m happy that I will be part of the KRT Kawasaki factory team taking part in the 2021 Suzuka 8 Hour race. Racing in Japan is always very special, and Suzuka 8 Hours is a world-famous race. It is so good to return to Suzuka after the 2020 pandemic. For all the Kawasaki fans, I promise that we will make the best preparations and I will do my best to be part of the winning team at Suzuka.”
Guim Roda of Provec and KRT
“The Suzuka 8 Hours is a global event, and it profiles not just the endurance of riders across these many hours but also the durability of the motorcycle. I’m sure Johnny, Alex and Lucas are the perfect weapons for this exciting challenge. Our job at Provec on behalf of KRT and the Kawasaki factory is to manage not just rider performance but also to work alongside the factory race staff to produce a Ninja ZX-10RR that is both fast and durable plus easy to maintain during pit stops and scheduled rider changes. I know this year’s 8 hour race is a big effort and commitment from many people to try come back to normality after a hard 2020 Covid year and not such an easy recovery back to “normal” in 2021. So will fully support this event to make sure the show goes on and we’ll work together with KHI to make the best result, for all fans and for all the world!”.
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