WorldSBK KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes will be joined at Suzuka by the proven talents of BSB rider Leon Haslam and successful Suzuka entrant in his own right, on the endurance spec Ninja ZX-10RR, running Bridgestone tyres.
All the riders have had a chance to test at Suzuka, with Haslam in particular spending a lot of time in Japan recently to make sure the everything is ready to race to win when his new team-mates join him there shortly.
KRT engineers and mechanics will support KMC’s Japanese engineers and technicians in this year’s effort at what is arguably the biggest single race on the Japanese motorsports calendar.
As well as being an important stand-alone event the Suzuka 8 Hours is a full round of the FIM Endurance World Championship - EWC.
Rea and Haslam won the last Suzuka 8 Hours, in 2019, riding for Kawasaki. Lowes and Haslam each have three previous Suzuka 8-Hours wins with Rea having won it twice before.
Kawasaki as a manufacturer has won the 8 Hours on two occasions, in 1993 and in the previous edition in 2019.
The 43rd Suzuka 8 Hours will take place between 5-7 August 2022.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I have completed one test ahead of Suzuka this year. We pretty much packed up our WorldSBK team and are going there with a couple of tests completed, trying to do a good job. It worked out in 2019. I think this year our rider lineup is good, with Alex and Leon. Hopefully, Leon is fast, Alex is fast, and we will have a good race. But in the Suzuka 8 Hours, it’s not all about the fastest guy. It’s about who makes the least mistakes, who’s consistent, and who’s good in traffic around the track as well. There’s always a lot of traffic.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “Suzuka is a special event and this year it’s my first race in Japan in Kawasaki green. I’m proud to wear the colours and to be team mates with Jonathan and Leon. We have a strong team. I am looking forward to working together and fighting for victory. It’s a pleasure to race in front of Kawasaki’s Japanese fans.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “I’m really looking forward to Suzuka. The last time I was here Johnny and I won it, so I have very, very good memories. I have done a lot of work out here in Japan already, working with a full KRT staff. Obviously, the pace times have all been very competitive, which has been good for me. It is kind of the highlight of my year. It has been a tough year in other championships, with a few issues, so to come out here and be assured that I am still as quick as anyone has been a big bonus. I’m super-excited to be team-mates with Johnny and Alex - I couldn’t wish for better team-mates. The Suzuka 8 Hours always throws a few curve balls with everything that goes on, but I am super-happy and confident to take on the challenge. We will see what we can do and try to get back-to-back wins.”
Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “After 2019’s success, Kawasaki was willing to defend that victory in 2020 but, unfortunately, the Covid situation did not make this possible. In 2021 we tried once more but, again, Covid intervened. In 2022, and after many efforts from Mobilityland, the Japanese fans and Kawasaki, we will have the opportunity to defend our 2019 win - and at the same time put on a big show. This is going to be one of the biggest events in Japan after the Covid pandemic, so we have not only a responsibility to perform well, but also follow all safety and health indications, directly from the local authorities and Government. This 2022 effort is a much more complex project than 2019, because KMC trusts in KRT’s full organisation and the support of some KMC engineers. It is a great honour to try our best and check if this combination of linking the KRT WorldSBK project with KRT in the Suzuka 8 Hours is workable, and gives some sense to both activities running in parallel in the future. I hope we can make as big show and provide good racing entertainment.”