Countdown to EWC Suzuka 8 Hours: How Kawasaki is doubling its chances of home endurance glory
Kawasaki’s hopes of a second consecutive victory in the Suzuka 8 Hours rest with not one but two frontrunning teams.
As well as the ace Webike SRC Kawasaki France line-up of Randy de Puniet, Florian Marino and Etienne Masson, the Japanese make can also count on its star-studded official factory entry featuring FIM Superbike World Championship riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes, plus Leon Haslam, who competes in the British equivalent.
The all-British trio will compete under the Kawasaki Racing Team Suzuka 8H banner and all three riders have strong records when it comes to success in Japan’s round of the FIM Endurance World Championship, which is back on the calendar for the first time since 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Rea, 35, and Haslam, 39, were part of line-up that won the Suzuka 8 Hours in 2019, while Lowes, 31, was second three years ago having claimed victory in the three previous editions. Haslam is also a three-time Suzuka 8 Hours winner, while Rea has claimed two Suzuka wins.
“I am so excited to go back to Japan,” said Rea. “The target heading to Suzuka is to win. We won there before and this season I feel, with Alex and Leon inside the team, we have a lot of experience together with the Ninja ZX-10RR. We are going with a huge effort, lots of testing, taking the event seriously with a strong rider line-up and a team with a lot more experience. I feel the minimum we can do is compete for the podium, but of course in endurance racing everything can go right, everything can go wrong. We have to be very calm and mature.”
Lowes said: “Suzuka is a special event and this year it’s my first race in Japan in Kawasaki green. I’m proud to wear the colours and to be team-mates with Jonathan and Leon. We have a strong team [and] it’s a pleasure to race in front of Kawasaki’s Japanese fans.”
Haslam added: “The last time I was here Jonathan and I won it, so I have very, very good memories. I have done a lot of work out here in Japan already, working with a full KRT staff. Obviously, the times have all been very competitive, which has been good for me. It has been a tough year in other championships, with a few issues, so to come out here and be assured that I am still as quick as anyone has been a big bonus.”