Checa lined up to partner Hayden at Suzuka Eight-Hour

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Reigning premier class world champion Nicky Hayden could be joined by fellow MotoGP rider Carlos Checa in one of Honda’s top factory teams competing in the prestigious Suzuka Eight-Hour endurance race.

Checa’s LCR Honda squad have just confirmed to MCN the Spaniard flew straight from Turkey’s Istanbul Park clash last weekend to test a factory spec FireBlade superbike in preparation for the Eight-Hour in late July.

A spokesman said: “Carlos is in Japan at the moment. It’s not an LCR deal and the test is something to do with Honda and Carlos.

“We only know he is testing at some point this week.”

American Hayden is expected to take part in the Eight-Hour too, which is a race that is still regarded by Japanese factories as one of the single most important races to win of the year.

Hayden was due to ride in the Eight-Hour last year but eventually missed as Honda bosses didn’t want to distract him from the task of becoming the first rider to beat Valentino Rossi in the four-stroke MotoGP era.

Honda is already planning big name line-ups in this year’s Eight-hour that will take place on July 29, 2007 just a week after the American GP at Laguna Seca.

Current World Superbike championship leader James Toseland has been targeted by HRC bosses to compete for the first time in the Eight-Hour.

The British rider has been linked with partnering reigning British superbike champion Ryuichi Kiyonari.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt