Motorcycle racing legend and Kawasaki icon Akira Yanagawa is ready to face a new challenge, as 2019 will see him (almost) fully committed in the raise of young Japanese riders. However, Yanagawa may still participate in some races, including 2019 Suzuka 8 Hours.
The almost 48-year-old Jap has started a new career after he ended a 15-season collaboration with Kawasaki Team Green in 2016. His new career started in Hanshin Riding School, but this year we’ll see Yanagawa working with Team With87 Kyusyu, Japanese squad who carry Akira’s historic race number and represent the Prefecture the All Japan legend comes from (Kyusyu). The team will spend 2019 All Japan season in the following classes: JSB1000 (Superbike), ST600 (Supersport) and, maybe, JP250 (a sort of Supersport 300).
Akira Yanagawa will follow the team at every 2019 event, together with project manager Osamu Nishijima. Former All Japan protagonist, Nishijima is also expected to contest Suzuka 8 Hours and All Japan race at Autopolis.
Team With87 Kyusyu will race in JSB1000 class with a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR machine and their rider will be Naoki Kiyosue, youngster coming from Hanshin Riding School. Last year, Kiyosue took part in 2018 Suzuka 8 Hours together with Yanagawa and Nishijima.
Suzuka 8 Hours is where Yanagawa may hit the track again. So far, Yanagawa has participated in many editions of the iconic Endurance race, but he has never managed to win. However, in 2016 he scored the first of three consecutive podiums achieved by Kawasaki Team Green, as Yanagawa shared factory Kawasaki ZX-10RR with Leon Haslam and Kazuki Watanabe.
Translated by Alessandro Palma