Kevin Schwantz comes out of retirement to race in Suzuka 8 Hours
Former 500cc world champion and Grand Prix legend Kevin Schwantz will be making a shock comeback to compete in the 2013 Suzuka 8 Hours, that takes place on July 28.
The highly popular American won the 1993 500cc world championship, but in 1995 he tearfully announced during Italian GP at Mugello that he was retiring, unable to continue due to lingering wrist issues, but many believed that revvin’ Kevin’s heart was no longer in racing after long-time rival Wayne Rainey's career ending crash during the Misano GP.
Schwantz who will turn 49 a month before the iconic endurance race will be riding for Team Kagayama owned by Yukio Kagayama who convinced the Texan to come out of retirement to ride a Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Joining Kagayama and Schwantz at Suzuka will be another popular rider and fan favorite Noriyuki Haga.
Kagayama, 39 is a former World Superbike and British Superbike rider who currently races in the All Japan Road Race Championship.
The flamboyant NitroNori, was also a former World Superbike rider and last season competed in the British Superbikes for Swan Yamaha replacing injured Ian Hutchinson, but the Japanese rider had a disappointing season. Haga also took part in last year’s 8 Hours with Yamaha Austria.
"I’m riding a motorcycle on a daily basis and even though I’ve retired from active duty some time ago I feel I will be up to the task," Schwantz said in a statement from the team.
"Both riders are very familiar with the Suzuka circuit and the bike, and are fast and proven competitors so there is a very real chance to contest for the win. I continue to be involved in the sport but I’ve never won the Suzuka 8 Hour, it’s an unturned page in my career as yet. I have been continuously saying that I have never won at Suzuka 8 Hours, and would like to post a new page in my racing career by winning the race."
Schwantz’ last Suzuka endurance race was in 1988 when he finished second with Doug Polen riding a Yoshimura Suzki, while Kagayama won the 2007 edition with Kousuke Akiyoshi and Haga’s last triumph in the Japanese endurance race was in 1996 with Colin Edwards.