1993 500cc world champion Kevin Schwantz is to enter this year's prestigious Suzuka 8 Hour endurance race, with Noriyuki Haga and Yukio Kagayama as his team-mates!
Texan star Schwantz, who retired from grand prix during 1995, will race a Dunlop-shod Suzuki GSX-R1000 alongside the Japanese ex-world championship stars.
“With two of the toughest and fastest riders, along with three riders who know Suzuka well, I believe that there is a big chance to win,” said 48-year-old Schwantz, who spend his entire grand prix career with Suzuki.
“Although I have been retired from racing for a while now, I have been riding frequently with my school in the US, so there should not be any problem. I can't wait! I've always said that I have never won at the Suzuka 8 Hours, and would like to write a new page in my racing career by winning the race.”
Kagayama - a former grand prix, BSB and WSBK racer as well as a Suzuki test rider - has set-up the team.
“Team Kagayama will be racing at the Suzuka 8 Hours for the first time and I thought I needed Noriyuki and Kevin, whom I both deeply respect. I'm happy to make this announcement of the 'Dream Team'," explained Kagayama. “I want to thank them both for accepting my offer. Motorcycle racing in Japan needs a big surprise like this! The last time I won at Suzuka 8 Hours was in 2007 and with the help of my team-mates, I aim to win again this year.”
World Superbike legend and 500c podium finisher Haga spent last season racing in BSB, but was left without a ride for 2013.
"I made a promise with Yukio that I would race with him together at Suzuka, and now I am happy that I will be able to fulfill that promise," said Haga, who like Kagayama is 38 years old. "Along with my team-mates, we will aim to win the race and make the best of the opportunity Team Kagayama has given me."
Associated with Yamaha for much of his career, Haga will be making his Suzuki debut as well as a return to Dunlop tyres. "I am looking forward to racing with Yukio and Kevin, to be on a Suzuki machine for the first time, and my first Dunlops in 11 years."
The 2013 Suzuka 8 Hours, which also forms the second round of the FIM Endurance World Championship, takes place on July 28. Although the significance of the event has waned outside Japan, it is still regarded as arguably the most prestigious race of the year for the home manufacturers.