2017 British Superbike Championship, BSB R11, Assen, Holland. 28th September 2017.
Leon Haslam, Smalley, JG Speedfit Kawasaki

Keen to assert its dominance in the world of superbike racing, Kawasaki Team Green has selected current World Superbike Champion Jonathan Rea, British Superbike championship racer Leon Haslam and 2013 All Japan Road Race Championship ST600 champion Kazuma Watanabe to race in the 2018 Suzuka 8-hours endurance race. Rea currently holds three world superbike titles while Haslam has two Suzuka 8-Hours wins and Watanabe brings extensive experience in the Japanese JSB1000 race class to the table.

Team Green will be campaigning with the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR, the latest iteration of its top-flight superbike, which is based on the current model ZX-10R. Testing in preparation for the race in Ino, Suzuka City, has begun, with Rea saying, “Suzuka is the biggest test for man and machine. It’s like an emotional roller coaster during the race and I am very excited to go back this season.”

Rivals Yamaha have won the last three editions of the Suzuka 8-Hours, while Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) entered the fray with an official factory team in 2017, running alongside three HRC-supported privateer teams, one of which is the Malaysian-led Satu Hati Honda Team Asia. Racing the Suzuka 8-Hours is seen as prestigious for Japanese motorcycle makers, with a win being a good motivator for sales and marketing.

“Suzuka is very challenging circuit and it really suits the characteristics of the bike itself. Being part of Team Green and riding the ZX-10RR is a dream come true,” said Haslam. Meanwhile, Watanabe said, “for this year’s Suzuka 8-Hours we are fielding our strongest team yet. We will be pushing for the win so be sure to cheer for Team Green.”

The Suzuka 8-Hours is held at the Suzuka circuit in Mie Prefecture, Japan, which measures 5.807 km in length. Designed by Dutchman John Hugenholtz, Suzuka has a unique figure-eight layout, with the the back straight crossing over the front straight using an overpass.