It's been six years since Noriyuki Haga competed in the Suzuka 8 Hours, the Japanese star last taking part in 2006 with Colin Edwards with the duo thwarted by mechanical woes. And it was five years earlier that Haga competed in the 8 Hour with Anthony Gobert - with motorcycle troubles again knocking them out of the race before its completion. This year, Haga gets another shot at the race that he's only won once in 10 attempts (with Edwards in 1996) as he will team with Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Tommy Hill on a Team Monster Energy Yamaha - YART entry.
"Machine trouble took us out of the race and let down many fans at my last Suzuka 8 Hours in 2006," Haga said. "This time, we're here to make up for that performance and looking at our rider lineup, I think we have a good chance to aim for the top and show the fans our determination. Now the only thing left to do is wish for good luck."
British Superbike Champion Hill, meanwhile, will make his first start in what once was the premiere endurance event in the world.
"To race at Suzuka for Yamaha is great news for me," Hill said. "It is to represent the Yamaha racing brand as well as compete in the British Superbike Championship. This will be my first time competing at the Suzuka Circuit, but I am very much looking forward to racing there and hopefully push for success for Yamaha and myself."
Nakasuga's best result n the race came back in 2008 when he finished fifth with Yuji Sato.
"Personally, I want to finish the race at the top for YART as we were not able to finish last year," Nakasuga said. "We have two excellent riders in Tommy Hill and Haga this year. We all have great ability and strong personalities, but I feel like I can lead them as one of the fastest riders on a YZF-R1. The Suzuka 8 Hours is a team battle, so good teamwork between the riders is important as well. I think we'll perform well as we have a good balance between an experienced rider like Haga, and a young rider like Tommy. Please look forward to the race."