Kawasaki’s upward trajectory continues
Kawasaki has grown increasingly ambitious since making an official return to the Suzuka 8 Hours in 2014. Factory squad Kawasaki Team Green is chasing a victory, and seven other teams will be flying the Kawasaki colours.
Kawasaki Team Green stood on the second step of the Suzuka podium in 2016 and 2017, and this year the factory team is out to clinch the win. British racer Leon Haslam, who is currently topping the British Superbike Championship standings, will pair with Japanese rider Kazuma Watanabe to ride the ZX-10R #10, like last year. Kawasaki’s three-time FIM Superbike world champion Jonathan Rea has been roped in to further boost the squad’s chances of winning. Rea is no stranger to the race in Japan, having won the 2012 Suzuka 8 Hours with F.C.C. TSR Honda. So the Kawasaki #11 will be the bike to watch. But two other ZX-10Rs are also expected to cut a dash.
Bolliger Team Switzerland targeting Top 10 spot
The Swiss team have regularly featured in the Top 15 at the finish of the Suzuka 8 Hours. They placed 13th in 2017 and will be aiming even higher this year with Roman Stamm, Robin Mulhauser and Sébastien Suchet riding the Kawasaki #8. A good result in Japan would also enable Bolliger Team Switzerland to climb further up the championship standings.
Mathieu Gines on the grid for Eva RT Webike Trick Star
This strong Japanese team have just recruited Frenchman Mathieu Gines, a Kawasaki SRC stalwart, to join their rider line-up featuring Osamu Deguchi and Australian racer Anthony West. The latter currently leads the Asia Road Racing Championship standings, having won the latest round in Suzuka. The team generally makes a fine showing. They finished 14th at the Suzuka 8 Hours in 2017. Their best result to date is a 2nd-place finish in 2009.