The entire Pata Honda World Superbike and World Supersport squad will be lining up on the grid for the start of this year’s prestigious Suzuka 8hr race, with last year’s winning combination of Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark, alongside Takumi Takahashi, on the MuSashi Harc-Pro Honda team joined by the previous year’s winner Jonathan Rea, Kohsuke Akiyoshi and WSS rider and Suzuka newcomer Lorenzo Zanetti on the FCC TSR Honda.
Rea, one of the few riders lining up on the grid with a team of only two – Zanetti is the TSR team’s reserve rider – says that the race, run at the height of the Japanese summer – will be a challenge.
“I’m really excited about this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours but also a little nervous because, as always, it is a very important race for Honda to have a strong result. It’s such a hard race, both mentally and physically, which makes it the toughest race of the year, but I know that our team is strong. Of course, I know that our competitors are really strong, too, and that many things can happen during eight hours of racing! But our target is simple.”
Teammate Zanetti added “I am the reserve rider for the FCC TSR team so I will take part in the third rider qualifying on Friday in case I am needed for the race. I tested the CBR at Suzuka for the first time two weeks ago – the bike is fantastic and the circuit is a lot of fun to ride. I am looking forward to the whole event and, of course, I will do whatever I can to help Honda and the team to win.”