Kawasaki has confirmed that Leon Haslam will once again be a member of their official team at the prestigious Suzuka Eight Hour endurance race, which takes place at the iconic Japanese circuit in July.
The 2016 British Superbike Championship runner-up will ride alongside local star Kazuma Watanabe on the factory-run ‘Team Green’ Kawasaki ZX-10RR. Haslam and Watanabe will be joined by a third rider, who has yet to be appointed by the team.
Carole Nash-based Haslam is something of a Suzuka specialist, having been part of the winning Honda team in 2013 and 2014 and finishing runner-up with Kawasaki last season. The race first took place in 1978 and is seen as the most important one-off race by the Japanese manufacturers, who have historically entered full factory bikes for their international race stars. Yamaha has won the event for the past two years, with local hero Katsuyuki Nakasuga joining forces with MotoGP star Pol Espargaro on both occasions. Bradley Smith was the third member in 2015, with fellow Brit Alex Lowes taking his place last year.
Speaking of his appointment to the official Kawasaki team, Haslam said: “I’m extremely pleased to announce that I’ll be competing for Team Green Kawasaki at the 2017 Suzuki Eight Hour race again. Last year was an unbelievable experience and working with the Team Green squad to secure a second place finish was awesome. In 2017, I’m super excited to take on the challenge again and try to go one better and get on the top step of the podium.”
In addition to his Suzuka Eight Hour appearance, which will involve numerous trips to Japan to test the factory Kawasaki, Leon will again be one of the front runners in the British Superbike Championship, where he will compete for the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team.
The British Superbike Championship kicks off at Leon’s local Donington Park circuit in Leicestershire this weekend.