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The Suzuka circuit in Japan is one of the most iconic motorsport venues in the world, and the prestigious 8hours race, running this weekend, is the highlight of the calendar. The 38th ‘Coca Cola Zero’ Suzuka 8hours FIM Endurance World Championship round is set to be a hotly contested race, with stars from MotoGP and World Superbikes lining up against the regular Endurance competitors and factory ‘wildcards’.
Kawasaki will enjoy a strong presence at the event, with regular Endurance World Championship competitors Team SRC Kawasaki leading the way. Following a podium at the Le Mans 24 hour race, SRC riders Gregory Leblanc, Matthieu Lagrive and Fabien Foret head to Japan eager to repeat that feat. Fellow Kawasaki EWC competitors, Team Bolliger Switzerland will be lining up on the grid with Nicolas Salchaud, Roman Stamm and Daniel Sutter.
After making their return last year, the domestic Kawasaki squad called Team Green are also competing again in 2015, with a three rider team consisting of Japanese stars Akira Yanagawa and Kazuki Watanabe plus talented Indonesian rider Haji Ahmed Yudhistira.
For the big four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the Suzuka 8hours race is one of the biggest events of the year. Although nowadays the rules restrict how much development can go into the machines, there was a time when ‘full factory’ machines were built specifically for the event. With money no object, the bikes of old were full of magnesium, titanium and carbon fibre parts and would weigh in at an incredible 150kg. The 8Hours is undergoing a resurgence and the 2014 event saw 110,000 fans visit across the four day festival.
In 1993, the same year he won the World Superbike title for Kawasaki, Scott Russell and team mate Aaron Slight took a dominant victory aboard the ZX-7R to secure Kawasaki’s only 8Hours win to date.
Endurance Racing is an important part of Kawasaki’s racing heritage winning the World Championship with riders such as Raymond Roche, Carl Fogarty, Terry Rymer and Alex Viera.
In 1993, the same year he won the World Superbike title for Kawasaki, Scott Russell and team mate Aaron Slight took a dominant victory aboard the ZX-7R to secure Kawasaki’s only 8Hours win to date. More recently the SRC Kawasaki team have won the Le Mans 24HR and Bol D'Or a total of seven times since 2010.
Steve Guttridge, Racing Manager for Kawasaki Motors Europe said, “The Suzuka 8Hours event is one of the biggest racing highlights of the year. This massive event always produces some fantastic racing and we are particularly excited to see how our regular endurance competitors such as our officially supported team SRC and Team Bolliger will fare around the Suzuka circuit, as well as Team Green, who now have a full year of experience under their belt.”