Suzuki MotoGP test rider Nobuatsu Aoki will join 1993 World 500cc Champion Kevin Schwantz and former All Japan Superbike Champion Satoshi Tsujimoto in the Yoshimura Suzuki Legend Team at the Suzuka 8-Hour World Endurance Championship second round in July.
In celebration of the company’s 60th Anniversary, Yoshimura will also run a second team managed by Yohei Kato - Yoshimura Suzuki Shell ADVANCE - comprising Japan’s Takuya Tsuda and Australian Josh Waters.
Said Yoshimura President and Legend Team Manager Fujio Yoshimura: “I've had many concerns about making the best choice to appoint a third rider for the #12 Legend of Yoshimura Suzuki Shell ADVANCE team for the Suzuka 8-Hour Race. The main concern was the physical condition of both Schwantz and Tsujimoto in the gruelling heat during the race. They are still fit and motivated, but completing eight hours is really tough. Also, even though they have brilliant racing histories and experience, it is not so easy to advance to the Top-10 Trial, so my choice was to pick Nobuatsu Aoki as the third rider.
“He has been racing with Team Yoshimura at the Suzuka 8-Hour for the last six years and there has been nothing to complain about with his performance or reliability in the team. He knows our GSX-R, Bridgestone tyres and the Suzuka Circuit very well, and both Schwantz and Tsujimoto have great respect for him because of his capability and also in helping develop a winning machine!
“It is a great honour to have riders like Schwantz, Tsujimoto and Aoki for Yoshimura's 60th Anniversary race, and it is going to be one of the most memorable events for us.”
Aoki said: “Both Kevin Schwantz and Satoshi Tsujimoto have been my heroes since I was a teenager, and the Team Manager Fujio Yoshimura has been a big name in racing. I am proud to be one of the riders in the Legend Team to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Yoshimura company.
“My duty is leading the team to the victory with my experience, and I will do my best. It will be the seventh time that I have raced the Suzuka 8-Hour in the Yoshimura team and I am honoured that I am also the rider with largest number of Yoshimura appearances in its history.”
Schwantz said: “It is great to have Nobu on the team and I look forward to riding with him. I had to ride against him last year; and now we get to ride with him this year!”
Tsujimoto added: “I am relieved to hear Nobu will be our team mate. Since the Legend team was made, I have been thinking he would be the best rider to race with. He is a reliable rider and I have seen him on the Suzuka 8-Hour podium four times for the Yoshimura team, so he is a suitable rider. I am sure Fujio will be leading us in the best way and Kevin, Nobu and I will show the best performance.”
The Suzuka 8-Hour race takes place at Suzuka Circuit in Japan on July 27th.