Former 500GP world champion Kevin Schwantz is to make his international racing comeback with a shock entry for the Suzuka 8 Hours, Japan's biggest and most-prestigious motorcycle race.
The 48-year-old, who clinched the 1993 World Championship aboard his #34 Lucky Strike RGV500 Suzuki, will race a GSX-R1000 in a privateer team set-up by Yukio Kagayama that also includes fellow former MotoGP, WSBK and BSB star Noriyuki Haga.
"I'm looking forward to racing the Suzuka 8-Hour in July with Noriyuki Haga and Yukio Kagayama on a Suzuki GSX-R1000,” said Schwantz. “Suzuka holds a special place in my heart because that is where I won my first 500cc Grand Prix in 1988.
"The last time I raced the 8-Hour was in 1992 with Doug Chandler and we did not finish due to mechanical issues. With only two riders, it used to be a really, really physical race and now with three riders it is still going to be tough but not quite as much.
“Although eight hours on a 1000cc bike is going to be very physically-demanding, I will need to increase my training program to possibly do two-three hours on the bike.
"I've never have won the 8-Hour and with my team-mates that are as strong as Yukio and Nori, along with our Dunlop tyres, I think we stand a good chance."
Kagayama answered the following questions about the Suzuka entry.
When did you talk to Kevin and Nori about this project?
"The project started in Summer 2012. I'd heard that Kevin always wanted to enter the Suzuka 8-Hour again but had some small problems doing so."
What kind of problems?
"First, how to organise the team? Who would he get as a partner, what machine; and who would he get to be his team staff. Secondly, Kevin has a good partnership with Yoshimura, so if Kevin came back to the 8-Hour, naturally it should be with Yoshimura. Kevin has a good partnership with Dunlop in his racing-school in the USA, but Yoshimura uses Bridgestone tyres. So Kevin's dream looked over, but I wanted Kevin to enter Suzuka as a racing rider, not just as a big guest for racing in Japan."
Doesn't your own team use Dunlops?
"Yes. My own team - which started in 2011 at the Japanese Superbike Championship - uses Dunlops, but at the 2012 Suzuka 8-Hour I raced for SERT."
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