Pata Honda riders ready to renew Suzuka challenge

While the World Superbike and World Supersport championships take an extended summer break, the action does not stop for Pata Honda riders, all four of whom will participate in this weekend’s Suzuka 8 Hours event in Japan.

Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea, Leon Haslam and Michael van der Mark are all former winners of Japan’s most prestigious motorcycle race, which also forms round two of the 2014 FIM World Endurance Championship.

For this year’s 37th running of the gruelling endurance test for rider and machine, Rea, 27, will partner Kohsuke Akiyoshi in the FCC TSR Honda team, with whom he won the Suzuka 8 Hours in 2012, becoming the first British rider to climb to the top step of the podium.

Rea will be joined in the FCC TSR squad by Pata Honda World Supersport team member Lorenzo Zanetti, 26, who has been nominated as a reserve rider after testing at Suzuka two weeks ago.

Rea’s World Superbike partner Leon Haslam will contest the punishing endurance battle for the rival MuSashi Harc-Pro Honda team, lining up with current World Supersport series leader Michael van der Mark and Takumi Takahashi – the trio that was victorious in last season’s race.

The four Pata Honda riders are the only representatives of the World Superbike and World Supersport championships to participate in this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours event and will be riding endurance specification, Bridgestone-shod Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade machinery.

The 2014 Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8 Hours schedule – local times (GMT +9):

Thursday 24 July
13:30-14:30 – Free Practice 1
15:40-16:40 – Free Practice 2

Friday 25 July
09:00-11:00 – Free Practice 3
13:50-14:20 – Qualification: 1st Rider
14:35-15:05 – Qualification: 2nd Rider
15:20-15:50 – Qualification: 3rd Rider
18:00-19:30 – Free Practice 4: Night Session

Saturday 26 July
14:15-15:00 – Free Practice 5
15:30-16:45 – Top 10 Trial
19:00-21:00 – Pre-Final Event

Sunday 27 July
08:30-09:15 – Warm-up
11:30-19:30 – Race

Leon Haslam – 2013 Suzuka 8 Hours winner
I’m really looking forward to this year’s 8 Hour, especially after winning the race last season. The team is fantastic and the bike is really competitive. It’s just really exciting to be a part of it all once again and I can’t wait.

Jonathan Rea – 2012 Suzuka 8 Hours winner
I’m really excited about this year’s Suzuka 8 Hours but also a little nervous because, as always, it is a very important race for Honda to have a strong result. It’s such a hard race, both mentally and physically, which makes it the toughest race of the year, but I know that our team is strong. Of course, I know that our competitors are really strong, too, and that many things can happen during eight hours of racing! But our target is simple.

Michael van der Mark – 2013 Suzuka 8 Hours winner
I can’t wait to start this weekend in this special race! After last year, there is just one goal and that is to win. Together with Takumi and Leon we have a strong team with a great bike. It will be tough but I’m really looking forward to it.

Lorenzo Zanetti – Suzuka 8 Hours debutant
I am the reserve rider for the FCC TSR team so I will take part in the third rider qualifying on Friday in case I am needed for the race. I tested the CBR at Suzuka for the first time two weeks ago – the bike is fantastic and the circuit is a lot of fun to ride. I am looking forward to the whole event and, of course, I will do whatever I can to help Honda and the team to win.



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