Former 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz recently visited Japan to take part in the official test for the 2014 Coca-Cola Zero Suzuka 8-Hours. Schwantz, who last year finished third at Suzuka riding for Team Kagayama, is part of the Yoshimura Suzuki Shell Advance Legend Racing Team and will ride alongside his 1986 Suzuka 8-Hour partner Satoshi Tsujimoto and Suzuki Moto GP test rider Nobuatsu Aoki.
The Texan also visited Suzuki headquarters in Hamamatsu prior to the test and was met by Representative Director and Executive Vice President, Mr. Yasuhito Harayama and Suzuki MotoGP R&D staff at Suzuki Plaza adjoining the main office, where Schwantz talked about his enthusiasm for the upcoming Suzuka 8-Hour event at the end of this month.
Said Schwantz: “In the Suzuka 8-Hour race in 1986, I finished third with Tsujimoto. I remember that he and I managed fairly similar lap-times, and as we were both fast, we were good enough to win. But so many things happen in a long race like Suzuka and it didn’t quite happen. Now it is good to be back together again after 28 years.
“I always think, whenever I race, my aim is to win. After practice and testing I’ll have a better idea about the race. You always know there will be changing conditions during the race, which is why we will be keeping an open-mind. But we are still hoping for the best and aiming for the win.
“The preparations that I’ve made for this race are the same as last year; motocross and mountain bike riding. Last year I did three or four 600 races in Texas, but for this year I did an AMA Superbike test in Austin.
“Fitness is the most important thing to maintain a good pace in a long race. You need to ride more consistently from start to finish and maintain optimum strength and stamina. Although diet is important, I do now tend to eat what I want to, when I want to.
“At present I don’t have any strategy for the race. First I have to develop a plan for my 24 to 25 laps. The team strategy will be sorted after testing, when we have more information about the machine, such as fuel consumption and tyre wear.
“The key points for success at Suzuka are to be fast, consistent and to make no mistakes, and myself, Nobu and Satoshi will aim to do those things.
“As a team, the pit stops are the easiest places to lose time and I know that Team Kagayama is superior in its pit stop strategy and performance.
“I expect a good test on the track next week and of course the objective of any race is to win!,” he added prior to the Suzuka test.