Rea and Haslam back with Honda for Suzuka 8hr

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Honda has confirmed their factory line-up for the prestigious Suzuka 8hr; one of the most important races of the year for the Japanese manufacturers and held at Honda’s own circuit. Honda are looking to extend a record this year that goes back to 2010, with the Big H dominating the race in recent years.

The FCC TSR team will once again be led by Jonathan Rea, with the Pata Honda world superbike racer, who won the race in 2012, joined by Kousuke Akiyoshi, a three time Suzuka winner and two time Japanese champion. Akiyoshi is also known to many European race fans as an occasional MotoGP wildcard, taking points in six races in the series.

Their main opposition looks set to be last year’s winners, though, as Rea’s WSB teammates Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark once again line up for the MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO team, alongside last year’s fellow winner Takumi Takahashi, who currently leads the Japanese Superbike Championship for the team.

However, they will also be joined by the Lincolnshire-based Honda Racing squad of Julien Da Costa, Freddy Foray and Sebastian Gimbert, who showed in the opening race of the year, the Bol d’Or, that they are capable of running right at the front in the series after a number of years spent struggling.

The race is on the 27th July at the famous circuit in Japan’s Mie prefecture, but many of the top riders are flying out this weekend for the official practice session.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer