Double Suzuka 8 Hours winner Jonathan Rea 'gutted' as prestigious Japanese race cancelled due to Covid-19

Two-time Suzuka 8 Hours winner Jonathan Rea says he is “absolutely gutted” by the cancellation of the event in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jonathan Rea won the Suzuka 8 Hours race for the second time in 2019.Jonathan Rea won the Suzuka 8 Hours race for the second time in 2019.
Jonathan Rea won the Suzuka 8 Hours race for the second time in 2019.

Rea, who became the first British rider to win the prestigious endurance race in 2012, and new Kawasaki Racing team-mate Alex Lowes were set to bid for glory at the event on the ZX-10RR in Japan in October.

The race had already been postponed from July but will now not be held until 2021.

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Rea said: “Of course I am absolutely gutted to not go back to Suzuka to race for Kawasaki. After last year’s win - it was incredible with all the emotions we endured during the race - I was really excited about this year’s prospects, especially the potential in teaming up with Alex Lowes and Xavi Fores.

“They are two strong riders and I thought we could really do a good job. We won’t get the chance to defend our title from last year, but the health and safety of all is most important right now during this global crisis.

“Our Suzuka ambitions will be put on ice until 2021 and I am really sorry for the fans – especially the Japanese spectators who turn up to see us every year,” he added.

“I feel so close to them and they give me so much support, I will miss that part of it the most.”

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Rea took over the lead of the World Superbike Championship following a dominant hat-trick at Portimao in Portugal last weekend.

The five-time champion will now focus solely on winning the title for a record sixth time and will be in action on Thursday and Friday for an official test at Motorland Aragon in Spain, where the next two rounds of the championship will be held on successive weekends, starting from August 28-30.

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