Yamaha has announced it that it will field a Factory team in this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race, with the Tech 3 duo of Pol Espagaro and Bradley Smith joining Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
This will be the first time since 2002 that Yamaha has fielded a factory team for this prestigious event and the team will ride a factory machine based on the new YZF-R1 and specially developed for competition in the Suzuka 8 Hours.
The news brings an end to the rumours circulating in the paddock that Valentino Rossi was set to compete in the event for Yamaha. It also shows the increasing importance the factories are placing on the race, which has been in the doldrums in recent years.
Pol Espagaro said: ““I am really happy that Yamaha has chosen me to represent them at one of the most famous motorsport events, which is the Suzuka 8 Hour race. I am under no illusion that it will be easy as I have never raced in an endurance event before and I don‘t know the YZF-R1, even though a lot of people speak very highly about it. In addition, the MotoGP calendar is very demanding and we will have to work through the training for the event, in between the races. Therefore, we need to work as much as possible in order to be prepared for the race, but I‘m very excited to get this opportunity. Moreover, it will be nice to work with Bradley as a partner where we will fight together, instead of against each other. I think we will complement each other very well and have a great time. The only thing is that neither of us know the Suzuka track, so I hope Nakasuga-san can help us with everything, which includes the circuit, the bike and the correct strategies that we need to have a successful eight hour race. It will be special and we will do our best to reward the faith that Yamaha has put in us.”
Bradley Smith was equally excited. He said: “I‘m looking forward to trying a new form of motorcycle racing and even more so along with my MotoGP teammate Pol and Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who has a strong record at this special race. I think it will be an unforgettable event and it will add another chapter to my life with Yamaha. I‘m also very excited to try the new Yamaha YZF-R1, which I have heard a lot about and it will be really great to finally get the opportunity to ride it. Of course, I will take this event very seriously as we are going to be part of the official Factory Team effort, so I will head to Japan with the full intention of getting a high scoring result for Yamaha.”