Edwards steps in for Ukawa at Eight-Hour
Colin Edwards has been drafted in as a last minute replacement for the injured Tohru Ukawa in Honda’s Suzuka Eight-Hour squad on August 4.
The Texan will partner Daijiro Kato on a Cabin SP-2. Edwards said: " Racing with Kato will be good, he's very fast at Suzuka. From the practice we've had there so far I'm sure we’ve got a machine and tyres capable of winning the race again.
" The Suzuka Eight-Hours is a good event, very hard work on a rider but, like last year's victory, it can be very rewarding if you win.
" The race is at a good time of year for me, once it's over we've got a break and a chance to kick back at home. "
Edwards romped to victory last year in a dream match-up with Valentino Rossi. But Rossi made a point of writing the Eight-Hour out of his Honda contract this year. Most factory riders are contractually obliged to do the race, but Honda was forced to concede on this point with Rossi if they wanted to keep the Italian prodigy.
Only five-times World 500cc champion Mick Doohan had the equivalent muscle to pull out of Eight-Hour duty. In 2000 Edwards was publicly critical of the mental and physical drain constant shuttling to Japan involved, describing it as " A pain in the ass " .
Ukawa was injured in a spectacular crash at MCN Donington Park’s high speed Craner Curves and was lucky to escape with just a broken bone in his right foot.
Although he recovered to take third in the German GP a week later, the gruelling nature of the Eight Hour meant that the factory was unwilling to risk further aggravating the injury ahead of the Czech GP on August 25.