Nicky Hayden will make his first return to the Suzuka 8 Hours in 13 years as the headline in a strong rider line-up for Honda.
The 2006 MotoGP world champion had been linked to a Suzuka comeback as soon as he switched into the World Superbike championship this season with the Ten Kate-prepared Honda squad.
Honda has now confirmed its rider line-up for the prestigious endurance event with Hayden joining the MuSASHi RT HARC-PRO squad alongside World Superbike team-mate and two-time Suzuka 8 Hour winners Michael van der Mark and Takumi Takahashi.
“For me it is a great honor to go and compete in a race such as Suzuka 8 hours with long history and very different type of race with running start, pit stops and working with team mates to find the right set up for all us,” Hayden said. “With the long summer break we have, I am happy to have a chance to stay on the bike and stay sharp.
“Will be a long tough challenge with many good teams but would be great to win and add the trophy to my collection.”
The Ten Kate Honda link-up continues in the F.C.C TSR Honda rider squad with World Supersport challenger PJ Jacobsen competing alongside Kazuma Watanabe and Moto2 rider Dominique Aegerter. Watanabe and Aegerter will be keen to make amends for finishing runner-up last year to the factory Yamaha crew.
Other Honda squads include Satu HATI Honda Team Asia will also be competing for its fifth consecutive year, while seven other Honda associate teams will also participate in the race.
The 39th Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8 hours, acting as the third round of the 2016 FIM Endurance World Championship, will be held on the 31st July.