Kawasaki has confirmed full-factory participation in the 2022 Suzuka Eight-Hours event after a two year absence from the high profile event.
WorldSBK front runners Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes will spearhead the campaign with current BSB regular and WorldSBK wildcard Leon Haslam completing the line up.
The trio all have proven winning pedigree at the historic venue and will be joined by a raft of support from both the full KRT outfit alongside Japanese Kawasaki engineers and technicians to be ready to fight for success once again. As well as being an important stand-alone event, the Suzuka Eight-Hours is a full round of the FIM Endurance World Championship - EWC, with the action being postponed during the pandemic.
Rea and Haslam formed the most recent winning line up having taken the spoils in 2019 with the Northern Irishman boating another victory to his name while Lowes and Haslam have three wins apiece.
The 43rd edition of the Suzuka Eight-Hours arguably the most important and challenging single race event on the motorcycle sport calendar, will take place between 5th-7th August 2022.
“I am so excited to go back to Japan,” Rea confirmed. “Understandably Kawasaki has always had such a great support out there. We won the race three years ago. Kawasaki was understandably keen to defend the title and especially to continue the positive exposure WorldSBK is delivering currently while extending that positivity to the Eight-Hours and Japan. Due to Covid we weren’t able to return until now.
“I always feel really appreciated by the Japanese fans. The atmosphere is incredible and I am really looking forward to going back. I think the target heading back 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.
“I am really excited to go back and see what we can do. 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, mature, and do our best, lap-by-lap.”
“It is a race that I have had some success with in the past,” Lowes added. “I am really happy to be going back there with Kawasaki for the first time. To be paired with Jonathan, who won last time he was there, is fantastic. Obviously I am a good friend of Leon’s away from the track so it will be nice to be in the same team as him too.
“I share the garage with Johnny every weekend and he obviously is a reigning champion at Suzuka because we have missed a couple of years. I have won the event three times so I think we have a pretty good team, a strong team, and I am looking forward to seeing how we get on all together.
“With the test schedule Kawasaki has created we know how focused they are on this race. As the race comes back on the calendar in 2022 they want to win and we are going there to do our best to achieve another victory. Let’s see if we can hit our target.”
“For me, to go back to the Suzuka 8 Hours is fantastic,” Haslam stated. “I have had a lot of success there and managed to win it three times. Johnny and I won it back 2019, the last time it was run, so to go back in 2022 I have really high expectations.
“To be teamed back up with Johnny and also Alex, who was our main rival in 2019 - I think we have the dream team. I am super-excited and can’t wait to get going. The goal for 2022 at Suzuka obviously is to win, and to get back-to-back wins for Kawasaki.”
As in WorldSBK, the Suzuka outfit will be headed by KRT Team Manager Guim Roda.
“We are so proud to assist in this race and Kawasaki asked us to fully support this Suzuka Eight-Hours activity, similar as we did in 2019 when was supporting Team Green and KHI Engineers,” Roda confirmed. “We are going to make one step more and bring the team’s Superbikes there at 100 per cent to try to take the victory again. We will see how we work in the next test and make our best steps. It will be a combination of the KRT WorldSBK staff and the Japanese engineers. “They have good experience in the 8 Hours and will be supporting us in many areas. It is a very important race for Japan as a country, and the market in Japan, and we are very proud to be there to support this race but we feel for the fans all over the world, 8h race, is a very iconic one too.
“For KRT and Kawasaki it is a very important event because it represents the spirit of the sport in Japan. I know Kawasaki is willing to make a good job there, try to battle against other manufacturers and give a good show. In the end it is like a big show, a big party of motorcycling in Japan. Kawasaki is so committed to this activity. We are going to try to make all our best there and bring the trophy back to Kawasaki again.”