After confirming WorldSBK riders Jonathan Rea, Alex Lowes and Lucas Mahias in their 2021 line-up, Kawasaki will not compete at the Suzuka 8 hours due to the event being cancelled because of Covid-19. 

The global virus has been worsening in Japan of late - not helped by a significant increase in positive cases since the 2020 Tokyo Olympics took place. 

So while the cancellation of the event was not entirely unexpected for these reasons, it means Rea will have to wait another year to defend his and the team’s crown after winning in 2019. 

"It’s a real shame to miss out on the Suzuka 8 Hours because it is always a nice opportunity to meet all the top management from Kawasaki and all the Kawasaki fans from Asia that support us all year round," said Rea.

"It is an incredible race from a mechanical point of view, a human point of view. 

"Of course we have to follow all the safety protocols for the event, I fully stand by that and it is better to make that decision now than creeping up closer to the race. I hope to revisit Suzuka in the future."

Lowes, who is the most successful WorldSBK rider at the event with three wins, also shared his disappointment at missing out. 

Lowes added: "I am very disappointed not to be going there. I was so excited, firstly to partner with Johnny, because I think we would make such a good team. 

"Secondly, to go back to a track and an event that I have had a lot of success at. To ride for Kawasaki in Japan is something that I am looking forward to doing. 

"I was really looking forward to that, so I am sad that we are not doing it this year plus meeting all the guys over there. It is a disappointment it is not on the calendar."