Eurosport Events and the FIM have released the provisional entry list for the first edition of the 8 hours of Sepang this December 2019.
There are no big surprises to be revealed and most of the competing teams are permanent ones of the 2019/2020 FIM Endurance World Championship. The event is meant to be a “Qualification Race” for next year’s 8 hours of Suzuka for the Asian teams, so a total of 10 new Japanese teams will make it to Sepang. A further two Malaysian teams will be on the grid.
Of course, all eyes will be on one of those “Malaysian” teams, which only should be on paper Malaysian: The Yamaha Sepang Racing team. It will carry the #21 on its fairing – and is run by the Sepang Petronas MotoGP team with the Suzuka Yamaha factory material, now built and maintained by the Austrian company YART. With MotoGP riders Franco Morbidelli and Hafizh Syharin joined by former Suzuka and three times WorldSBK winner Michael van der Mark. Syharin, currently going for his last race with the Tech 3 KTM MotoGP team, will have a unmatched highly busy outing at Sepang, as he will be out in the Touring Cars as well.
There is a highly welcomed return to action at Sepang for World Superbike legend Akira Yanagawa, who will join RS ITOH on – of course – Kawasaki machinery. Yanagawa was a regular podium contender in the WorldSBK between 1997 and 2001, catching 23 podiums with three wins in 121 World Superbike starts – all of those on Ninja bikes.
The BMW Motorrad World Endurance factory team did a Dunlop test at Jerez de la Frontera this week with IDM Superbike champion Ilya Mikhalchik and EWC team mate Kenny Foray, both being satisfied with the outcome prior the flyaway race.
Former MotoGP rider Xavier Simeon seems to be back in shape – at least that is what the entry list says as he is back with his #333 VRD IGOL Pierret Experiences team, joined by Florian Alt and Florian Marino. Simeon posted some stories about his recovery process on social media recently and should be fine to ride. If not, Ricard Brink from the Netherlands could substitute once more as he did at the Bol d’Or.
As it stands now, Yamaha will be the leading manufacuterer, fielding a total of 16 bikes, followed by Kawasaki (10), Suzuki and BMW (9 each) and Honda (4). The Team Sugai Racing Japan will bring the sole Aprilia RSV4RF to the grid, with HRT 100 Hertrampf Racing from Germany fielding the Ducati Panigale V4R once more. There are rumours about a second Ducati entry for the 8 hours of Sepang, but nothing is officially decided on that regard yet.
Out of the 50 entries of teams for the Malaysia race, there will be 19 in the Superstock category.