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Smith and Espargaro to make Suzuka 8-Hour debut

Yamaha factory team to make Suzuka 8-Hour return

MONSTER Yamaha Tech 3 duo, Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will represent Yamaha in their return to the Suzuka 8-Hour Endurance in July.

Yamaha have not fielded a factory team at this prestigious event since 2002, but now it has officially been announced that the Yamaha Factory Racing Team will compete in the 38th "Coca-Cole Zero" Suzuki 8-Hour from July 23rd-26th.

Yamaha's rider line-up consists of MotoGP riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaró and Katsuyuki Nakasuga. 

Nakasuga is one of the top Yamaha riders in Japan and is currently in contention to win a fourth consecutive title in the premier class of the All Japan Road Race Championship. He has also raced in the Suzuka 8-Hour seven times, with a best result of fourth place in 2014.

The riders will have a factory machine based on the new YZF-R1 which has been specially developed for this particular endurance race.  

The team will set out to claim Yamaha's first victory in this event in 19 years and its fifth in the race’s history.

Espargaro and Smith will be making their debut at the Suzuka 8-Hour. 

"Firstly, I want to give Yamaha a massive thank you for considering me to be part of their Suzuka 8 Hour team, which is a legendary event," said British rider Smith. 

"I’m looking forward to trying a new form of motorcycle racing and even more so along with my MotoGP teammate Pol and Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who has a strong record at this special race.

"I think it will be an unforgettable event and it will add another chapter to my life with Yamaha. I’m also very excited to try the new Yamaha YZF-R1, which I have heard a lot about and it will be really great to finally get the opportunity to ride it."

Smith's Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Espargaro added: "I am really happy that Yamaha has chosen me to represent them at one of the most famous motorsport events, the Suzuka 8 Hour race. I feel honoured to take part in it, but there will be a lot to learn.

"In addition, the MotoGP calendar is very demanding and we will have to work through the training for the event, in between the races. Therefore, we need to work as much as possible in order to be prepared for the race, but I’m very excited to get this opportunity.

"Moreover, it will be nice to work with Bradley as a partner where we will fight together, instead of against each other. I think we will complement each other very well and have a great time.

"The only thing is that neither of us know the Suzuka track, so I hope Nakasuga-san can help us with everything, which includes the circuit, the bike and the correct strategies that we need to have a successful eight hour race."

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