Jonathan Rea And Team Green On The Pace In Final 8-Hour Testing
Fresh from his double victory in round nine of the FIM Superbike World Championship at Misano, Jonathan Rea joined British Superbike front runner Leon Haslam and Japanese Superbike star Kazuma Watanabe at the Suzuka circuit in Japan this week. The trio took part in the final test session for the official Kawasaki Team Green entry ahead of the 41st running of the classic Coca-Cola Suzuka 8-Hours race.
In a gruelling three day test, against all their numerous rivals, Team Green’s new look line-up headed off many more experienced teams and finished with the second best time on their Ninja ZX-10RR in what was the final official test session before the race itself later this month.
The official Kawasaki Motors Japan squad put in a strong showing at a critical time in the build up to race weekend itself, with just over two weeks to go before the action gets underway for real.
The wonderfully varied 5.182km long Suzuka circuit, built in 1962, hosted its first 8-Hour race in 1978. Rea has competed once before in 2012, when he was part of the winning team. Kawasaki themselves have won the event once before, in 1993, with WorldSBK Champion Scot Russell and fellow WorldSBK Superstar Aaron Slight.
The 2018 edition of the Suzuka 8-Hour race will take place on the weekend of the 27 to the 29 of July, and will be the climax of the overall FIM World Endurance Championship season. The race starts in daylight and is completed in the darkness, adding another theatrical element to one of the single most important races of the year for riders and especially for manufacturers.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “The test is really positive – as this was my first test with Team Green Japan it was important to see the bike set up that Leon and Kazuma were working on. A really good sign is that I jumped on and with only a few tweaks l was up to speed. I basically worked on re-learning the track – it’s been four years since I’ve been here. Also I am learning about the Ninja ZX-10RR Suzuka endurance spec machine. I’ve ridden six of the last seven days, so it’s still fun but also hard work. The bike is working in a good window and we are competitive in all temperatures. The bike is very agile and good in traffic. At the final part of day three we did a race simulation and we had a lot of positive input. To be honest, all three of us in the team have been fast so that’s a good sign. All members of the team have been welcoming and I am looking forward to coming back for the race and doing the best we can.”