Pol Espargaro's Yamaha MotoGP future may be unconfirmed, but the Spaniard will return to Suzuka to defend the factory's 8 Hours crown.

Riding alongside Japanese Superbike champion and MotoGP test rider/wild-card Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Espargaro and Tech 3 team-mate Bradley Smith swept to Yamaha's first Suzuka victory since 1996 on their debut at the legendary endurance event.

While Smith - confirmed as moving to KTM next season - will not return for this July's race, both Espargaro and Nakasuga have been named in the official Yamaha Factory Racing Team.

Pata Yamaha World Superbike star Alex Lowes completes the line-up, in place of Smith.

Overlooked for the vacant factory Yamaha MotoGP seat in favour of Maverick Vinales, Espargaro is now closely linked to KTM, although Tech 3 have made clear they would like to retain the Spaniard.

Espargaro is currently seventh and the top satellite rider in this year's MotoGP world championship standings, heading into his home event in Catalunya this weekend.

By Peter McLaren


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