Pol Espargaro to defend Suzuka 8 Hours title with Yamaha

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Pol Espargaro to defend Suzuka 8 Hours title with Yamaha
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Yamaha has unveiled the rider line-up for its two-bike 2016 Suzuka 8 Hours assault, with last year's winners Pol Espargaro and Katsuyuki Nakasuga returning to the competition.

Polesitters Pol Espargaro
#21 Yamaha: Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith
Alex Lowes, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team
#7 Yamaha: Broc Parkes, Max Neukirchner, Ivan Silva, Igor Jerman

Espargaro, who rides for Yamaha's satellite team Tech 3 in MotoGP, made his debut in the Suzuka 8 Hours alongside Nakasuga and MotoGP teammate Bradley Smith in 2015.

The trio wound up winning the race from pole position, delivering Yamaha its fifth victory and first since 1990.

And while Smith, who has already announced he will be joining KTM from Yamaha in 2017, won't reprise his role, Espargaro will make a return aboard the spec YZF-R1 - despite early-season tensions between him and the manufacturer, as well as strong rumours that he will likewise be a part of KTM's new MotoGP factory team next year.

Joining Espargaro and Nakasuga is Alex Lowes, who races for Yamaha's factory team in World Superbikes and who finished fifth in last year's Suzuka 8 Hours aboard a Suzuki.

Yamaha's other line-up, for the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team, will feature Australian veteran Broc Parkes alongside Japanese duo Kouta Nozane and Takuya Fujita.

Both entries will be sponsored by energy drink company Monster.

The 2016 edition of the race will take place on July 31.

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