Michael van der Mark admits it will be a weird feeling lining up for the factory Yamaha squad for this year's Suzuka 8 Hours race after his previous Honda wins but calls it is a special honour to represent two manufacturers at the prestigious race.

The Dutch rider is a two-time winner at the Suzuka 8 Hours having raced for the factory Honda squad for the past number of years but for 2017 has switched to the Pata Yamaha squad in the World Superbike championship.

Yamaha has jumped at the chance to call upon van der Mark at the Suzuka 8 Hours and has confirmed he will team-mate World Superbike stablemate Alex Lowes as well as Katsuyuki Nakasuga - with the pair winning the 2016 race alongside Pol Espargaro.

The Yamaha Factory Racing Team is looking to defend its Suzuka 8 Hours title having won it in back-to-back years with the new YZF-R1 and the Dutch rider is filled with mixed emotions as he looks to claim a third victory and first as a Yamaha rider.

"It is a little bit of a weird feeling but this is life," van der Mark said. "It is a special race and a big honour to be asked to represent a factory team again. The question was already asked last year when I was about to sign for Yamaha and I said yes immediately.

"It will be really interesting because I have seen the bike for two years and how fast it was so I am really looking forward to riding the bike. With endurance racing we have to share the bike between the three of us so we have to find the compromise but we'll be fast."

Lowes has echoed his new team-mate's sentiments on the day the pair secured a double top five result for Pata Yamaha in race two at Donington Park in World Superbikes.

"If you get asked by the Yamaha factory to represent them at the Suzuka 8 Hours it is an honour so I am happy to be team-mates with Michael," Lowes said. "I know how good a rider he is and we are quite similar plus Nakasuga-san is fantastic so we can do a strong job.

"With the bike on different tyres compared to here and set-up how they have it in Japan. It worked really well last year and even if I use Michael's set-up I'm quite confident I can ride it in a good way. I'm not worried, I think it will be great."

Yamaha has announced van der Mark, Lowes and Nakasuga will ride for the Yamaha Factory Racing Team and Broc Parkes, Marvin Fritz and Kohta Nozane will represent the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team.

The 2017 Suzuka 8 Hours will take place on the 27-30 July.



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