Kawasaki names rider line-up for 2021 Suzuka 8 Hours
Kawasaki has named its rider line-up for its factory entry for the postponed 2021 edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours.
Provec Racing, which operates Kawasaki's dominant World Superbike squad, will field a works ZX-10RR for Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes and Lucas Mahias for the Japanese event on November 7.
The trio will attempt to defend the victory the marque took in the most recent running of the Suzuka 8h in 2019 with Rea and then-Kawasaki WSBK riders Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Six-time WSBK title-winner Rea commented: “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."
Three-time event winner Lowes was scheduled to join Kawasaki's Suzuka 8h assault last year alongside Rea and Xavi Fores before the event was cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I’m delighted that I’ll be part of the KRT Kawasaki factory racing team for the 2021 Suzuka 8 Hours," said Lowes. "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."
Following the cancellation of the 2020 Suzuka 8h, this year's event was moved from its traditional July slot to November in the hopes that Japan's travel restrictions will be eased by then.
Both MotoGP and the FIA World Endurance Championship have had to cancel their respective Japanese rounds for a second year in a row, while the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka also hangs in the balance.
Suzuka 8 Hours postponed until November
Suzuka 8 Hours cancelled for the second year running
FCC TSR Honda rider Gino Rea remains under sedation after sustaining serious injuries to his head in a practice crash at the Suzuka 8 Hours, his family said in a statement.
Leon Haslam feels Kawasaki should have no reason to be disappointed with a second-place finish in the Suzuka 8 Hours after being outshone by a dominant Honda team.
Takumi Takahashi feels he banished the demons of his 2019 Suzuka 8 Hours loss by helping Honda to a first victory in the race in nearly a decade on Sunday.
Honda annihilated the competition to claim a record-extending 28th victory in the 43rd running of Suzuka 8 Hours, as defending champion Kawasaki finished a distant second.