No Suzuka 8 Hours EWC Grand Finale without international riders
The 2020 Suzuka 8 Hours has been called off. As a result of stronger restrictions on entry in Japan, international teams and riders will not be able to travel to Suzuka. In agreement with FIM and Eurosport Events, the promoter of FIM Endurance World Championship, the Suzuka 8 Hours organiser Mobilityland has decided to cancel the 2020 edition.
Rescheduled to 1 November due to the global health crisis, the 43rd edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours will not take place in 2020. It is the first-ever cancellation since the creation of the race in 1978.
The Covid-19 pandemic remains a source of concern in Japan, and the government has decided not to lift its entry ban on international arrivals, even for business travellers. International riders and permanent teams have always been an integral part of the action at the Suzuka 8 Hours, which has become the grand finale of the FIM Endurance World Championship. In their absence, the grand finale would be a domestic race. As a result, Mobilityland has decided to cancel the 2020 edition.
Kaoru Tanaka, President Representative Director of Mobilityland Corporation
“We had been preparing for the “Coca-Cola” Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Race to be held on November 1st together with all of the fans and stakeholders involved in this race event but, with anguish, we find no alternative but to make the decision to cancel it in consideration of the continued spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Japan and overseas and the fact that there is no prospect of deregulation of immigration restrictions on visitors from abroad at this stage in Japan.
“Once again, we extend our apologies and regrets to all the fans who were looking forward to attending the Suzuka 8 Hours, which had been postponed from the originally scheduled date in July to November. We also extend our sincere regrets to all of the other stakeholders involved in this race event and we ask for everyone’s kind understanding and cooperation going forward.
“In closing, let us say that we are determined to make preparations so that the 2021 Suzuka 8 Hours event will be even more enjoyable for the fans than ever before.”
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events
“We have been working hard with Mobilityland to reschedule the race from July to November – a first since 1978 – and then to organise entry into Japan for international teams and riders with a special business visa. Our hopes have evaporated with immigration restrictions for foreigners. The cancellation of the 2020 Coca-Cola Suzuka 8 Hours is not a question of spectators’ access. The decision was made not to run this iconic race as a domestic event. The Suzuka 8 Hours, the most prestigious endurance race in the world over the last 40 years, shall not run without top international riders.”
Jorge Viegas, President of the International Motorcycling Federation
“The cancellation of the iconic race of the Suzuka 8 Hours is really very sad news, but we must accept the Japanese government’s decision that takes into account the safety measures for the health of the population. In these difficult times, I want to thank all the efforts made by our promoter Eurosport Events, the organiser Mobilityland and Japanese Motorcycling Federation (MFJ). All the fans can be sure we will come back in 2021 with the best race ever!”
More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:
KRT Reacts To Suzuka Cancellation
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.”