Suzuka 8 Hours Update

Elliot Strong
by Elliot Strong
From Honda Racing Information:

SUZUKA 8 HOURS NEWS: Edwards replaces Ukawa; Doohan rode the RC211V machine

Colin Edwards Replaces Tohru Ukawa on Cabin Honda for Suzuka 8 Hours

American Colin Edwards has been drafted into the Cabin Honda Suzuka 8 Hoursteam as replacement for the injured Tohru Ukawa. Edwards will partnerreigning 250cc World Champion Daijiro Katoh on the Cabin liveried # 11 bigtwin cylinder VTR1000SP-W for the race.

World Superbike Championship campaigner Edwards, who won the correspondingrace last year, while racing with Valentino Rossi, is very much the man inform. Edwards arrives at Suzuka fresh from a double victory for teamCastrol Honda at the European round of the Superbike series, held at BrandsHatch, England, last Sunday.

Texan Edwards said of Sunday's race, "Racing with Katoh will be good, he'svery fast at Suzuka. It will be interesting to see how he sets the machineup compared to our World Superbike settings. Although I've been told he hasalready tested with the settings I used last year and says he can run withthe same bike set-up. From the practice we've had at Suzuka so far I'm surewe've got a machine and tires capable of winning the race again. The SP-2is a big improvement on last year's machine and I'd love to win a third 8-hoursrace on the machine."

"The Suzuka 8 hours is a good event, very much hard work on a rider but,like last year's victory, it can be very rewarding if you win. The race isat a good time of year for me, once it's over we've a break and a chance tokick back at home," concluded Edwards.

Ukawa decided to stand down after consultation with his doctors. Thepopular MotoGP rider sustained a broken bone in his right foot, ad a badlybruised lower spine in a high speed crash in free practice for the BritishGrand Prix, in mid-July. He raced to a third place finish at the German GPtwo weeks ago but the 8-hours is the most grueling event on themotorcycle-racing calendar, a race that demands 100% physical and mentaleffort from competitors. Ukawa's physicians advised Ukawa against racing asthe effort required could hinder his recovery to full strength in time forthe next MotoGP Championship race, at the Czech Republic, on August 25.

Doohan Rides the Honda RC211V at Eve of Suzuka 8 Hours 25th Anniversary Festival

Former 500cc World Champion Michael Doohan rode a specially preparedversion of the Honda RC211V MotoGP machine at Suzuka tonight. The RCV hasbeen prepared for Doohan at the request of Suzuka circuit who wished to seethe five-time World Champion take part in special 'Eve of the 8 Hours' 25thAnniversary festival.

Honda felt the special occasion merited an appearance by their newestMotoGP race machine. As the festival takes place on Saturday night, priorto Sunday's race, the RC211V has been furnished with headlights for theevent.

The lighting system is a one-off. Despite this being a solo appearance,Honda decided to equip the machine with something special for the festival.They have opted to use a 'Line Beam' headlight currently under developmentby Honda R&D. The headlight is a variety of the multi-reflector type. Itfeatures a smaller lens area than existing models, yet provides the samelevel of brightness and illumination, as the motorcycle headlightscurrently in use. The system is under development and could feature onproduction models at some time in the future.

Doohan, who won the 8-hours in 1991, put in several laps of the Suzukacircuit aboard the RCV, the machine that Shinichi Itoh raced to fourthplace at the Japanese GP in April, to re-acquaint himself with themotorcycle. His last outing on the 990cc five-cylinder four-stroke was atthe Pacific GP, at Twin Ring Motegi, last October.

Honda have a policy of developing technology for production machinesthrough their racing activities, and will continue to do so but Doohan'sSuzuka Festival RCV is not the forerunner of a street going RCV. As nodevelopment plan exists, there is no likelihood of a production RCVappearing within the next one or two years.

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