Kevin Schwantz Commits To Race 2014 Suzuka 8 Hours

American Grand Prix champion will team with Satoshi Tsujimoto on a “Legends of Yoshimura” Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R close-up

Kevin Schwantz intends to celebrate his 50th birthday this coming June with a podium finish a month later in the 2014 Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan. The 1993 500cc world champion will pair with 1985–86 All-Japan TT Formula 1 Champion Satoshi Tsujimoto on a "Legends of Yoshimura" Suzuki Shell Advance GSX-R1000. Schwantz and Tsujimoto finished third overall at Suzuka in the '86 edition of the grueling event, which serves as one of the stops for the FIM World Endurance Championship.

“It is our 60th anniversary year since Pops Yoshimura started this business back in 1954,” Yoshimura Japan President and Team Manager Fujio Yoshimura said. “We are having a to celebrate our racing history.”

“Pops was a very influential man in my career,” Schwantz said. “I first met him midway through the 1985 AMA season riding a Suzuki GS700 for Yoshimura. Riding for Pops taught me a lot and helped groom me to be the competitor that I am. He was a real motivator and got the best out of everyone who worked around him.

2013-Yoshimura-Suzuki-GSX-R1000

“In 1994, I presented Pops with my winning Suzuka Grand Prix trophy, the fourth Japanese win of my career, in the Suzuki garage. That photo is still is one of my favorites of all time. Before his passing, he told me I was his only rider to ever win a 500cc world championship, or MotoGP as it is known today, and since his passing in 1995, his words still hold true.” The famed Japanese tuner and product developer was inducted in the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000, one year after the Houston, Texas-born Schwantz.

Schwantz said partnering with Tsujimoto on the number 12 machine—the same number the pair ran 28 years ago—will be an honor. “I am 54 years old,” Tsujimoto said, “but I still have the same Yoshimura challenging spirit from the past. It is going to be a really tough race physically, but we will show our performance at the race.” Yoshimura will field a second GSX-R1000 bearing Schwantz’s old number, 34, with riders Takuya Tsuda and Josh Waters.

Schwantz, Noriyuki Haga and Yukio Kagayama finished third last year at Suzuka. “Competing in the 2013 Suzuka 8 Hours with Team Kagayama reminded me of what racing with a great team is all about,” Schwantz said. “I am really looking forward to celebrating Yoshimura’s 60th anniversary of being in business by competing in the 2014 Suzuka 8 Hours on a Pops Yoshimura Suzuki.”

2013 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Kevin Schwantz came out of retirement to compete in the 2013 Suzuka 8 Hours.

Kevin Schwantz enjoys a laugh with one of his 2013 Suzuka 8 Hours teammates Yukio Kagayama.

Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R.