Former World Superbike star Noriyuki Haga has joined Kagayama for the FIM Asia Road Race Championship, stating he is excited about the new challenge ahead of him.
Three-time World Superbike runner-up Haga, who has 43 race WSBK victories to his name, has competed with the team at the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours race for the past two seasons and will now compete for the team on a full-team basis in the Asian Road Race series. The team will compete with two Suzuki GSX-R600 bikes, with Haga on one and its second rider to be announced in the coming weeks.
The highly experienced rider, who turns 40 next month, has also contested in two full MotoGP seasons in 2001 and 2003 as well as in British Superbikes in 2012 and 2013.
The former Yamaha and Ducati rider is delighted to secure a new deal with team Kagayama and feels he is ready for a fresh challenge.
"This will be a new challenge for me. I have raced for Team Kagayama in the Suzuka 8 Hours for the past two years and now they have offered me a full-season ride in the Asia Road Racing Championship. It is an offer I accepted with my upmost pleasure," Haga said. "It will be a new challenge for the team and myself, but my long-time experience in the world championship should benefit the both of us.
"I've never raced a 600cc bike before in my life, so everything is fresh for me and I am looking forward to it. I hope I can live-up to Yukio Kagayama's expectations and hope to win races with the team."
The team also announced young rider Hijiri Yamamoto in the J-GP2 class of the Japan Road Racing series and the 18-year-old will compete on the Suzuki GSX-proto71.
Team manager Yukio Kagayama will continue to compete in the Japanese championship and the Suzuka 8 hour race with Haga.
"I have been racing for 26 years in Japan and all over the world and now I think it is my role to pass along my experience to the younger ones," Kagayama said. "As a rider, I will continue to race to win the Japanese Championship and the Suzuka 8 Hours. There are things that only an active rider can teach and there are things that only Team Kagayama can do and my team will do our best to achieve the goals we set."