1993 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz has sensationally announced he will contest the prestigious Suzuka 8-Hour endurance race in Japan this year. The 48 year old Texan will partner Japanese favourites Yukio Kagayama and Noriyuki Haga on a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 for the 36th running of the July showpiece.
The team has been set up by former Rizla Suzuki British Superbike star Yukio Kagayama, he said “Team Kagayama will be racing at the Suzuka 8 Hours for the first time and I thought I needed Noriyuki and Kevin, whom I both deeply respect. I’m happy to make this announcement of the ‘Dream Team’. I want to thank them both for accepting my offer. Motorcycle racing in Japan needs a big surprise like this! The last time I won at Suzuka 8 Hours was in 2007 and with the help of my team-mates, I aim to win again this year”
‘Samurai of Slide’ Haga is without a ride this year after a disappointing campaign in the 2012 British Superbike Championship for Swan Yamaha and sees this opportunity as a chance to show the 38 year old can still be competitive. He said “I made a promise with Yukio that I would race with him together at Suzuka, and now I am happy that I will be able to fulfill that promise. Along with my team-mates, we will aim to win the race and make the best of the opportunity Team Kagayama has given me. I am looking forward to racing with Yukio and Kevin, to be on a Suzuki machine for the first time, and my first Dunlops in 11 years.”
After retiring from the sport in 1995, and subsequently having the honour of having his famous number 34 retired with him, Schwantz raced in both the Australian and US NASCAR series with limited success and runs his own Motorcycle School in Birmingham, Alabama.
Schwantz has been in the headlines of late over his feud with the owners of the Circuit of the Americas and more recently after his comments about both Dani Pedrosa and Alberto Puig, that story can be found here.
He said “I’m riding a motorcycle on a daily basis and even though I’ve retired from active duty some time ago I feel I will be up to the task. Both riders are very familiar with the Suzuka circuit and the bike, and are fast and proven competitors so there is a very real chance to contest for the win. I continue to be involved in the sport but I’ve never won the Suzuka 8 Hour, it’s an unturned page in my career as yet. I’m riding a motorcycle on a daily basis and even though I’ve retired from active duty some time ago I feel I will be up to the task.”