EWC: van der Mark joins Lowes and Nakasuga in Yamaha Suzuka effort

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Alex Lowes and Katsayuki Nakasuga will be joined by Michael van der Mark as Yamaha seek their third consecutive victory in the prestigious Suzuka Eight-hour endurance race.

The trio will line-up for the Yamaha Factory Racing team, alongside the official Yamaha factory-supported Endurance World Championship team, YART, who’ll run endurance specialist, Broc Parkes and 2016 IDM German Superbike champion Marvin Fritz.

Yamaha has been unbeaten at Suzuka since rolling out the new YZF-R1, with Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro taking victory alongside team regular Nakasuga in 2015 before Espargaro, Nakasgua and WorldSBK man Alex Lowes repeated the feat last year on the factory machine specifically developed for the gruelling eight hour race.

While he might be new to Yamaha, van der Mark is no Suzuka rookie. The 24-year-old took victory in his first ever year at the event with Honda back in 2013 before following it up with a second victory a year later.

The two factory teams will be joined in Japan by the GMT 94 squad, who lead the 2017 Endurance World Championship after victories in both the Le Mans 24 hour and Oschersleben Eight hour races.


On returning to Suzuka, Lowes said: “I’m really looking forward to Suzuka; obviously it was a fantastic event last year. It’s always a really big pleasure and an honour to be asked by Yamaha to represent them at the Suzuka 8 Hours so I’m really looking forward to this incredible race again. There will be one different teammate this year with Michael but I get on well with him in the World Superbike team. I can’t wait to start the first test!”

Van der Mark added: “I’m really looking forward to racing at the Suzuka 8 Hours again. I’ve been racing there for four years now and won two times, so it will be a really special event for me to come back and do it with Yamaha. It’s also the 40th anniversary of the race and Yamaha has won there for the last two years so it’s going to be really good and I hope we can take the victory with Nakasuga-san and Alex. We have a really strong team so I’m going to give everything I’ve got to try and win again and make it really special for Yamaha and for all the fans. It’s one of the most important races of the year for Yamaha and all the Japanese manufacturers so I’m really looking forward to it and hoping we can make a good race with the best possible result.”

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Oli Rushby

By Oli Rushby

Former sports reporter covering British Superbikes, World Superbikes and road racing