EWC: Kawasaki confirm Rea and Haslam for Suzuka 8 Hour

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Kawasaki have confirmed that 2012 Suzuka 8 Hour and three-time World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea will return to the famous endurance race this year to partner fellow Suzuka winner and British Superbike front runner Leon Haslam.

Rea last headed to Japan for the race in 2013, partnering British Superbike champion Ryuichi Kiyonari, but failing to finish the race when the Japanese crashed out of the lead early in the race. That left Haslam and then-teammates Takumi Takahashi and Michael van der Mark to take victory in their place, the first of their two wins for the MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO Honda team.

But with the pair once again riding for the same manufacturer, they’ll now team up this year alongside Japanese racer Kazuma Watanabe – and Rea says he can’t wait to join forces with his former rival again.

"I’m really excited and honoured to be involved with Team Green for this year's Suzuka 8 Hours. It’s a race very close to my heart and after winning in 2012 it was always my intention to return to this race. Since I joined Kawasaki, we have always spoken about working together on this project and now is the right time with the schedule fitting perfect with my World Superbike program.

“It’s one of the toughest races in the world and a true test of man and machine. I will also do some testing before the race to ensure we arrived prepared. Together with the whole Team Green Kawasaki team we will do our best to achieve a result that we can all be proud of."

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer