Keven Schwantz has made the shock announcement that he is to come out of retirement to race the Suzuka 8 Hour with Nori Haga and Yukio Kagayama.
The 48 year old Texan will be riding the bike normally prepared for Kagayama, and believes he will be up to the task of long riding stints, saying “Although I have been retired from racing for awhile now, I have been riding very frequently as I organize a riding school, so there should not be any problem. I can’t wait until this “Mid-summer Festival” starts.”
For Kagayama, it is a chance to pair with one of his racing heroes in Schwantz, and dded that racing in Japan “needs a big surprise like this”.
Haga, a World Superbike icon, was unable to secure a ride this year after a disappointing season in the British Superbike Championship last year. Although Haga spent his most successful years with Yamaha, he is confident of success, saying “I made a promise with Yukio in the past, that I will race with him together at Suzuka, and now I am happy that I will be able to fulfill that promise. I am looking forward to racing with Yukio and Kevin, to be on a Suzuki machine for the first time, and my first Dunlops in 11 years.”
The spotlight is firmly fixed on Scwhantz however, who has recently come under scrutiny for a series of disparaging comments aimed at incumbent Honda factory MotoGP rider Dani Pedrosa.
“Dani lacks nothing,” Schwantz said on MotoGP.com, “but he has too much – like Alberto Puig. Dani needs to reach another level by himself. He is like a child who cannot be freed because his parents are holding him back. I like Dani, but he’s a rider who has been with Honda for eight years and not won anything. I would like him to prove me wrong, but I don’t think that will happen.”
Both Puig and Pedrosa responded angrily, with Puig penning an open letter to Schwantz describing how he had lost all respect for the Texan. Read the full war of words here.
This is the latest round of controversy for Schwantz, who is also embroiled in a legal dispute over rights to promote the Circuit of the America’s round of MotoGP.
It is all good news for the Suzuka 8 Hour event however, with further rumours persisting that Valentino Rossi is set to partner Cal Crutchlow in a Yamaha assault on victory.