Courtesy of KRT – Kawasaki Racing Team
After the official cancellation of the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours EWC race, originally rescheduled to October, KRT riders and key staff will now not have the chance to defend the title they won in such dramatic fashion in 2019. Kawasaki acknowledges and accepts the reasons for the cancellation and supports all efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, having already introduced strict and ongoing protocols within the KRT team and KHI in general.
Although final plans were still to be made in some key aspects of the final race preparations for this year’s event, all inside the Kawasaki family were looking forward to competing to win again during what many consider to be the most important single global race weekend for any Japanese manufacturer.
Last season all-time WorldSBK record holder Jonathan Rea (KRT) was part of the winning line up and ever since Alex Lowes signed for KRT to compete in the 2020 WorldSBK season, he has been eagerly anticipating an opportunity to race to win on the Ninja ZX-10RR at Suzuka. Both Rea and Lowes are proven winners at this gruelling event, which is a highlight of the EWC season,
Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes, plus key members of their regular WorldSBK squad, were awaiting the final word on how and when the race preparations for the Suzuka 8 Hours would match in with the often-rescheduled WorldSBK season fixtures, but now they will concentrate solely on their European-based world championship efforts.
After two back-to-back WorldSBK rounds, at Jerez and Portimao, the entire KRT squad is preparing for a test with their Ninja ZX-10RR machines at the next venue on the calendar, Motorland Aragon, on Thursday and Friday of this week – 13-14 August.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Of course I am absolutely gutted to not go back to Suzuka to race for Kawasaki. After last year’s win – it was incredible with all the emotions we endured during the race – I was really excited about this year’s prospects, especially the potential in teaming up with Alex Lowes and Xavi Fores. They are two strong riders and I thought we could really do a good job. We won’t get the chance to defend our title from last year, but the health and safety of all is most important right now during this global crisis. Our Suzuka ambitions will be put on ice until 2021 and I am really sorry for the fans – especially the Japanese spectators who turn up to see us every year. I feel so close to them and they give me so much support, I will miss that part of it the most.”
Alex Lowes, stated: “Obviously, I am initially disappointed that the Suzuka 8 Hours has been cancelled for this year, which I was really looking forward to. I have fond memories and good experiences of this race but this would have been my first Suzuka ride with the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR. I really hope that next year I can compete in this race and not just with the bike but also with Jonathan. I think it would make a great team that I would be really be excited to be part of. But I understand, clearly, the reasons why the race has been cancelled and my thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this global pandemic. I just hope that everyone can get back to normal as soon as possible. It is a fantastic race and it is a shame that we are not going to be able to go there this year to showcase the Kawasaki team. Fingers crossed that we can return next year for this special event.”
KRT Team manager, Guim Roda, stated: “We had an indication that the cancellation was going to happen and the news has become official today. KHI had big expectations running in the 2020 Suzuka 8 hours, to give the fans an extraordinary show again. With the responsibility to defend the win we achieved last year we planned an incredible project with Rea and Lowes, and with the support of Xavi Fores to attack the 8 Hours as strongly as possible. Everything was already planned, but unfortunately the outside realities and safety requirements around Covid-19 ended all our plans. We understand the wider situation. The direction of the Japanese Government, which is the same as many around the world, makes it difficult to organize the event with so many foreigners attending the 8 Hours race. This is the case for many teams, but especially the factory ones that build their projects in coordination with WorldSBK riders and staff. We hope everything goes back to a more normal situation soon and the Suzuka 8 Hours comes back even stronger. We in KRT are ready to attend KHI’s request to defend the title in future if needed.”
2020 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019
2020: Races 9, Wins 5, Podiums 7, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 93 (78 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 175 (133 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 24 (20 for Kawasaki)
2020: Races: 9, Wins 1, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 2 (1 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 22 (2 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 1 (0 for Kawasaki)
7 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
5 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017, 2018 & 2019)
5 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 152 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 442 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 89 – second overall