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Honda announces works 2023 Suzuka 8h line-up, adds Vierge

Honda has announced its works rider line-up for this year's Suzuka 8 Hours, with Xavi Vierge replacing Tetsuta Nagashima on last year's winning Team HRC machine.

#33 Team HRC

Following its first victory in the Japanese endurance classic for eight years last year, Honda is aiming to defend its title with Vierge sharing the #33 Honda CBR1000RR-R with Takumi Takahashi and Iker Lecuona.

Vierge served as the reserve rider last year after taking part in pre-event testing, but now steps up to join his World Superbike team-mate Lecuona as well as Takahashi, who competes in the Stock 1000 category of All-Japan Superbike.

“This will be the first time for me to ride in the Suzuka 8 Hours," commented Vierge. "I am very happy to be able to ride as a rider in the same stage where so many riders have created legends.

"Iker Lecuona is my teammate in WSBK, and Takumi Takahashi is a great rider who has won many 8 Hours races in the past. I believe that we can win this race to work hard three riders together. Please give us your power!”

 

Nagashima, who impressed with his speed at Suzuka last year, will serve as HRC test rider this year after making way in the works line-up for Vierge. 

“Unfortunately, due to an injury to my left foot, I was not in perfect condition at the time of entry this year," said the Japanese rider. "However, I am working on my rehabilitation so that I will be able to race.

"I have a special passion for the 8 Hours and have not given up on it. I am still in the process of recovery, but I would be happy to join the Team HRC again.”

In addition to the works Team HRC effort, Honda is supporting a number of other teams using the CBR1000RR-R.

Josh Hook, Mike di Meglio and Alan Techer will represent TSR Honda France, their regular team in the FIM Endurance World Championship. Techer replaces Gino Rea from last year's line-up after Rea suffered serious injuries in a crash.

Elsewhere, Japan Superbike rider Teppei Nagoe spearheads the line-up for SDG Honda Racing, British Superbike legend Ryuichi Kiyonari returns for Toho Racing and Ryo Mizuno, another ex-BSB racer, joins Astemo Honda Dream SI Racing.

Leandro Mercado, who previously rode for Honda's WSBK satellite squad MIE Racing, will compete at Suzuka in an all-international line-up for Honda Viltais Racing alongside Steven Odendaal and Florian Alt.

Honda looks set to be the only one of Japan's major manufacturers with a full works presence on the grid at Suzuka this year, with Kawasaki having already announced it won't participate with its factory team.

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