The 8 Hours of Suzuka is a pretty big deal for Japanese motorcycle brands and every year, the country’s Big 4 take extra lengths to ensure that their teams have an impressive showing at the event. This year is no different as Honda has already tabbed Casey Stoner to race for one of its factory-supported teams at the event on July 26, 2015. Turns out, Yamaha also has its own plans to field a star-studded line-up at the event featuring its own MotoGP riders, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

It’s no secret that Yamaha is particularly serious about winning this year’s 8 Hours of Suzuka race because it wants to parlay the acclaim of winning the event with its 60th anniversary celebrations. Having Rossi and Lorenzo, two of the best riders in the world, competing for the team will go a long way in achieving that. But the real question is this: are Rossi and Lorenzo willing to do it?

That’s the million-dollar question at the moment. Unfortunately, we’re not even close to finding an answer because Rossi and Lorenzo are apparently apprehensive about racing at the event. Both reportedly declined when Yamaha first broached the offer, but now that Honda has Stoner in the field, the House of Iwata is facing the all-too real possibility of seeing its victory at Suzuka slip away from its hands.

So there’s talk that the company’s putting the full-court press on its two riders to race and while it’s unlikely that will get a definitive answer soon, look for this topic to be broached on more than one occasion at this weekend’s MotoGP race at the Circuit of the Americas.

Continue reading to read more about Yamaha’s plans for the 8 Hours of Suzuka.

Why it matters

I can understand why there seems to be some desperation on Yamaha’s part to win the 8 Hours of Suzuka. Winning it for the first time since 1996 and in the same year it’s celebrating its 60th anniversary is the kind of publicity you can’t buy. So it’s only natural for the company to field the best possible riders that can put it in a position to win. In Rossi and Lorenzo, they have two of the best in the business and if both riders agree to race at the event, Yamaha will arguably be the favorites to win it.

The issue here is getting Rossi and Lorenzo on board. Rossi, in particular, is reportedly not too keen about racing at the event, having already won it back in 2001 with Honda. According to reports, Rossi was actually determined to win that race 14 years ago so that he wouldn’t have to do it ever again.

Then there’s the issue of schedule. The 8 Hours of Suzuka takes place on July 26, 2015. The date actually falls right in the middle of MotoGP’s four-week break so there won’t be any scheduling conflict with the racing series. That said, the 8 Hours of Suzuka isn’t just any kind of race. While it’s technically labelled as an “endurance race,” many riders who have participated in the event say that it actually feels like a full-on race that lasts for eight hours.

Subjecting yourself to that kind of physical pounding will probably have some kind of effect on Rossi and Lorenzo when they go back to MotoGP, which in turn could prove to be costly for the two riders who are likely to be in the middle of a championship race at that point in the season.

I get why Yamaha wants to win this year’s 8 Hours of Suzuka so badly. But I’m not sure it’s a good idea to get Rossi and Lorenzo involved when most of its rivals in MotoGP will be using the four-week break to recharge their batteries in time for the stretch run of the season.

I’d prioritize MotoGP over the 8 Hours of Suzuka any day because it’s a lot more important in the grand scheme of things. Besides, if I’m Yamaha, winning the MotoGP title in the same year as its 60th anniversary has a much nicer ring to it.

What do you think?
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