Smith and Espargaro to contest Suzuka 8 Hours
Tech 3 MotoGP teammates Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will ride in July’s Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race aboard a factory-entered Yamaha.
The duo will be joined by Japanese superbike champion and occasional MotoGP wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga aboard what will be Yamaha’s first full works entry in the race since 2002.
It will be the first time riding at the Japanese circuit for both Smith and Espargaro, who say they are looking forward to the challenge.
“I want to give Yamaha a massive thank you for considering me to be part of their Suzuka 8 Hour team, which is a legendary event,” said Smith.
"I’m looking forward to trying a new form of motorcycle racing and even more so along with my MotoGP teammate Pol and Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who has a strong record at this special race.
“Of course, I will take this event very seriously as we are going to be part of the official Factory Team effort, so I will head to Japan with the full intention of getting a high scoring result for Yamaha.”
Espargaro added: "I feel honoured to take part in the race, but there will be a lot to learn.
“I am under no illusion that it will be easy as I have never raced in an endurance event before and I don’t know the YZF-R1, even though a lot of people speak very highly about it.
“It will be nice to work with Bradley as a partner where we will fight together, instead of against each other.
“The only thing is that neither of us know the Suzuka track, so I hope Nakasuga-san can help us with everything, which includes the circuit, the bike and the correct strategies that we need to have a successful eight hour race."
Another rider familar to MotoGP fans will also be in action at Suzuka - two-time champion Casey Stoner, who was confirmed as a participant for Honda in March.
Stoner to return to racing in Suzuka 8 Hours
Smith “feeling pressure” ahead of Suzuka 8 Hours debut