Kawasaki is set to make a massive effort at wresting the 2018 Suzuka 8-Hour back after announcing that Carole Nash ambassadors Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea will join factory favourite Kazuma Watanabe on the lead Team Green ZX-10RR.
Held on the weekend of 28-29 July, the Japanese round of the Endurance World Championship is still seen by the most prestigious single race on the motorcycle racing calendar by the Japanese manufacturers, who bring out their best riders and bikes for the event.
Despite coming close on several occasions, Kawasaki haven’t stood on the top step at Suzuka since world superbike legends Aaron Slight and Scott Russell won the 1993 edition, although Haslam and Rea are both former winners at the gruelling event on Hondas. Haslam was victorious as a member of the official HRC squad in 2013 and 2014, while Rea and the FCC TSR team too the honours in 2012.
“I’m really excited and honoured to be involved with Team Green for this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours,” said Rea. “It’s a race very close to my heart and after winning in 2012 it was always my intention to return to this race. Since I joined Kawasaki, we have always spoken about working together on this project and now is the right time with the schedule fitting perfect with my WorldSBK programme. It’s one of the toughest races in the world and a true test of man and machine. I will also do some testing before the race to ensure we arrived prepared. Together with the whole Team Green Kawasaki team we will do our best to achieve a result that we can all be proud of.”
With three time world superbike champion Rea at the helm alongside British Superbike front runner Haslam, Team Green will start among the favourites for the event, which has been won by Yamaha for the last three years in a row.