Kawasaki announces its riders for Suzuka 8 Hours defence

Kawasaki enlists its leading WorldSBK riders for rhe 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours with Alex Lowes and Xavi Fores joining Jonathan Rea

Jonathan Rea (Suzuka 8 Hours)

The Kawasaki Racing Team has announced its riders for the 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours with Jonathan Rea being joined by WorldSBK counterparts Alex Lowes and Xavi Fores in the revised line-up.

Kawasaki ended its 26 year wait to win the Japanese endurance event in 2019 with the combination of Rea and Leon Haslam, so it’s little surprise to see Lowes – himself a three-time Suzuka 8 Hours winner with Yamaha – given a shot on the ZX-10RR.

Regarded as one of the most prestigious events in motorcycle racing fiercely contested by the Japanese ‘big four’, Kawasaki went all out to end its victory drought last season by enlisting its full Spanish-based factory WorldSBK squad to lead its charge.

The tactic worked with the combination of Rea and Leon Haslam claiming victory in bizarre circumstances despite the five-time WorldSBK champion crashed on oil with just 88secs left on the clock.

Initially handing Yamaha a fortuitous victory, Kawasaki appealed the result arguing the red flag that followed was credited to the contaminated track he’d crashed on. As such, KRT was reinstated on the leaderboard and since it was leading on the lap prior to the incident, was crowned the winner.

Ironically, it would have given Lowes his fourth consecutive Suzuka 8 Hours success had Kawasaki’s appeal failed.

Puccetti Kawasaki’s Fores is also included in the three-strong line-up but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be called upon since its predecessor Toprak Razgatlioglu was flown out to Japan but didn’t turn a single wheel in the race as KRT chose to focus on Rea and Haslam instead.

The 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours is scheduled to take place on July 19 though it remains to be seen whether it will go ahead as planned due to the coronavirus pandemic.