Italian Marco Melandri is the latest big-name MotoGP rider to be linked with a ride in the prestigious Suzuka Eight-hour endurance race.
This year’s race is the 30th anniversary and Honda is formulating a star-studded line-up to make sure it wins the race, which for Japanese factories is still one of the most important to win on the calendar.
Reigning MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden has also confirmed that he is likely to take part in the race on July 29, 2007.
“I’m going to test later this year. As of now, I’m most likely doing it, but I haven’t been told who my team-mate is or anything like that,” said the American.
Carlos Checa has also thrown his name into the hat having tested a FireBlade in Japan in between the Istanbul and Shanghai races.
“It was a different challenge but an enjoyable experience because I like Suzuka, it is a great track. I did some good lap times and it seems HRC team liked what I did at the test.
“Now I’m just awaiting confirmation of the plan. It is up to Honda to confirm what I will be doing. The Fireblade is heavier than a MotoGP bike, and the engine less powerful and the suspension softer.
“That was the main difference for me, but the weight was the main thing I noticed. I’d like to do the race but you must ask Honda about the team plans.”
Current World Superbike championship leader James Toseland is also in line to ride in the event for the first time, and he will fly to an ‘audition’ test immediately after the Silverstone WSB round on May 28, 2007.