If you’ve got a good memory, you’ll remember Kawasaki winning the 42nd Suzuka 8 Hours waaaaaaay back in 2019. They finished just 18 seconds in front of the Yamaha Factory Racing Team; who finished 48 seconds in front of Red Bull Honda. All after eight hours of racing. But it was a long time ago, so you might not.
Jonathan Rea, Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Leon Haslam joined forces to take the win for Kawasaki two years ago, but they won’t be sharing a stable at Suzuka this year, oh no. With Razgatlıoğlu jumping ship to Yamaha and Haslam now racing for Honda, Kawasaki have had to find a new Dream Team Green. And I think they have.
Riding the Factory Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR will be three previous Suzuka 8h winners; Jonathon Rea, Alex Lowes and Lucas Mahias. And under the management of Provec (the team that runs Kawasaki’s KTR WSBK team), they’re in good hands. In good hands on one of the best superbikes in the world.
Six time world superbike champ Jonathan Rea had this to say
“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.”
And I should hope so, too. His KRT Team mate, Alex Lowes said
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.
Alright mate, we get it, you like the ZX-10RR. It’s almost like they’re paying you to say that… oh wait, they are. The Kawasaki Puccetti rider, Lucas Mahias added this
“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.”
Concluding the team announcement, Guim Roda of Provec and KRT said
“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.”
Weapons? That’s an odd choice of words, Guim. I’ve heard they speak very highly of you.
The Suzuka 8 Hours is one of the biggest, most prestigious motorcycle races in the world; and it’s the one that all of the Japanese factories are desperate to win. The Europeans would be quite keen on a win too, but it really means a lot to the Japanese. That’s why they’ll all be wheeling out their very best MotoGP and WSBK racers, as well as any factory test riders, provided they can string a sensible lap together.
The Suzuka 8 Hours is due to take place on the 7th of November, and whilst Kawasaki will definitely have a strong team, so will all the other manufacturers. Chances are, the 43rd Suzuka 8 hour will be just as close as the 42nd. We’ll find out in just under four months. Maybe.