News 26 May 2015

Yamaha signs Espargaro and Smith for Suzuka 8 Hours

MotoGP regulars to race R1 alongside JSB champion Nakasuga.

Source: MotoGP.

Source: MotoGP.

Yamaha has confirmed Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith will contest the 2015 Suzuki 8 Hours alongside reigning All Japan Superbike Champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga on board the all-new YZF-R1.

Yamaha hasn’t fielded a full factory team at Suzuka since 2002, but has increased its support with the goal of claiming the brand’s first 8 Hours victory in 19 years.

Espargaro and Smith will be entering the Suzuka 8 Hours for the first time and will bring to the challenge their vast experience in MotoGP.

“I am really happy that Yamaha has chosen me to represent them at one of the most famous motorsport events, which is the Suzuka 8 Hour race,” Espargaro said. “I feel honoured to take part in it, but there will be a lot to learn.

“I am under no illusion that it will be easy as I have never raced in an endurance event before and I don’t know the YZF-R1, even though a lot of people speak very highly about it. In addition, the MotoGP calendar is very demanding and we will have to work through the training for the event, in between the races.

“Therefore, we need to work as much as possible in order to be prepared for the race, but I’m very excited to get this opportunity. It will be special and we will do our best to reward the faith that Yamaha has put in us.”

Smith: “Firstly, I want to give Yamaha a massive thank you for considering me to be part of their Suzuka 8 Hour team, which is a legendary event. I’m looking forward to trying a new form of motorcycle racing and even more so along with my MotoGP teammate Pol and Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who has a strong record at this special race.

“I think it will be an unforgettable event and it will add another chapter to my life with Yamaha. I’m also very excited to try the new Yamaha YZF-R1. Of course, I will take this event very seriously as we are going to be part of the official factory team effort, so I will head to Japan with the full intention of getting a high scoring result for Yamaha.”

Nakasuga is one of the top Yamaha riders in Japan and is currently in contention to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive title in the premier class of the All Japan Road Race Championship. He has raced in the Suzuka 8 Hours seven times before, with a best result of fourth place in 2014.