WorldSBK: Jonathan Rea to headline Suzuka title defense at Kawasaki 8 Hours | Superbikes of the world

Rea will ride alongside current KRT WorldSBK teammate Alex Lowes and British Superbike rider Leon Haslam.

A two-time winner of the event, Rea will be looking to make it a hat-trick of wins, which Lowes and Haslam have already achieved.

Rea wasn’t the only rider to win the event in 2019, as Haslam was also part of Kawasaki’s roster, as was current Pata Yamaha rider and reigning WorldSBK champion Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Rea’s first success at Suzuka came in 2012 when he rode alongside Tadayuki Okada and Kousuke Akiyoshi at Honda.

For Haslam, the former WorldSBK rider has won the event twice with Honda (2013-14) and once with Kawasaki (2019).

Due to COVID-19, the Suzuka 8h race hasn’t taken place since 2019, however, Rea expects the atmosphere to be just as “incredible” as before.

Speaking about his return to Suzuka with Kawasaki, Rea added: “I’m so excited to be back in Japan. Naturally Kawasaki always had such great support there. We won the race 3 years ago.

“Kawasaki was keen to defend the title and more importantly continue the positive exposure that WorldSBK is currently giving Kawasaki while extending that positivity to 8h and Japan.

“Due to Covid, we haven’t been able to come back so far. I always feel very appreciated by the Japanese fans. The atmosphere is amazing and I can’t wait to go back. I think the objective of returning to Suzuka is to win.

“We have already won there and this season I think with Alex and Leon in the team we have a lot of experience with the Ninja ZX-10RR.

“I’m really excited to get back out there and see what we can do. We’re going there with a huge effort, a lot of testing, taking the event seriously with a strong team of riders and a team with a lot more skill. ‘experience.

“I think the minimum we can do is compete for the podium, but of course in endurance racing anything can go right, anything can go wrong. We have to be very calm, mature and do our best. , round by round. “

Lowes aims high in his first appearance with Kawasaki at the Suzuka 8h

Since signing for Kawasaki in 2020, Lowes has been unable to compete in the event for KRT due to the aforementioned pandemic.

The three-time winner with Yamaha was extremely impressive in the endurance race, which is why fighting for victory is once again his focus.

“It’s a race I’ve had success with in the past,” Lowes said. “I’m really happy to be back there with Kawasaki for the first time. To be paired up with Jonathan, who won the last time he was there, is fantastic.

“Obviously I’m a good friend of Leon away from the track so it will be good to be in the same team as him too. I share the garage with Johnny every weekend and he’s obviously the reigning champion at Suzuka because we missed a few years.

“I’ve won the event three times, so I think we have a pretty good team, a strong team, and I can’t wait to see how we all get along together.

“With the test program that Kawasaki has created, we know how focused they are on this race. As the race returns to the calendar in 2022, they want to win and we are going there to do our best to win another victory. Let’s see if we can achieve our goal.”

The 2022 Suzuka 8 Hour Race runs from August 7-9.

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