The following release is from Motorcycling Australia... The world’s biggest motorcycle race, the Suzuka 8 Hour, will be held in Japan this Sunday, with dynamic duo Chris Vermeulen and Josh Brookes leading the Aussie offensive. Vermeulen, who is currently running second in the Superbike World Championship behind compatriot Troy Corser, will be making his first appearance in the iconic 27-year-old event, as will the Australian-based Brookes, who is desperate to put on a good show in front of the Japanese factory bosses – not to mention the 150,000-plus spectators! With conditions again expected to be extremely humid, Vermeulen will ride one of only two factory Honda CBR1000RRs in the race, alongside Japanese world Supersport campaigner, Katsuaki Fujiwara. The duo will compete under the Seven Stars Honda 11 umbrella, with Vermeulen a strong chance to become the seventh Australian winner of the 8-hour, and the first since Wayne Gardner and Daryl Beattie prevailed in 1992. Meanwhile, 23-year-old Brookes, who first hit the big time with a spectacular victory in the 2004 world Supersport round at Phillip Island, will also be CBR1000RR mounted for the – wait for it - Team Yoshiharu & Idemitsu Maido Plus collaboration. That’s a mouthful, but with some recent testing at Suzuka behind him and a capable teammate (Yoshiyuki Sugai) on board, Brookes will be in a position to showcase his full repertoire. Sugai finished sixth in 2004, in association with another Australian – Robert Bugden. Eighty teams are entered this weekend, with the race also doubling as round three of the 2005 Endurance World Championship. The British-based Phase One Endurance (YZF-R1) competes full-time in the endurance title, and its Suzuka roster will be filled by three Australians – Warwick Nowland, Damian Cudlin and Paul Young. Nowland, a two-time world endurance champion, and 22-year-old Cudlin are the regular incumbents at Phase One, while Young is in career-best form with his current leadership of the 2005 British Supersport title. “Suzuka is without doubt a very strange and difficult race,” said Nowland. “The humidity is tough, the temperature is high and the local riders are under pressure from the factories and/or themselves. Chris Vermeulen told me when he first met with the Honda bosses, they explained HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) will have bikes number seven and number 11 and they will finish first and second in the Suzuka 8 Hour. No pressure! ”Damian and I are now getting synchronised with bike set-up, which has been a bonus. And Paul has a lot of experience, so I'm looking forward to us all working together. I think we are a strong team.” Phase One is currently equal fourth in the endurance standings on 26pts, 29 in arrears of runaway leader, Castrol Suzuki (Keiichi Kitagawa, Vincent Philippe, Matthieu Lagrive, GSX-R1000). There are three rounds remaining, with events at Oschersleben (Germany) and Vallelunga (Italy) after Suzuka. Last year’s Suzuka 8 Hour was won by the Seven Stars Honda 7 entry, with former 500cc rider Tohru Ukawa and Hitoyasu Izutsu in the saddle. Ukawa has been retained in the same outfit for 2005, while Izutsu has been replaced by Ryuichi Kiyonari. Meanwhile, last year’s second and third placegetters will also return for more – Yoshimura Suzuki (Atsushi Watanabe, Yukio Kagayama, GSX-R1000) and Weider Honda Academy Boys (Toshiyuki Hamaguchi, Shogo Moriwaki, CBR1000RR). The Suzuka 8 Hour was first held in 1978, and became a part of the fledgling Endurance World Championship in 1980. A year before that, Honda-backed Australian pairing, Mick Cole and Tony Hatton, claimed the honours. It was then a six-year wait before an Australian rider again emerged with the spoils - Wayne Gardner in 1985 on Honda’s then all-conquering RVF750 Formula One machine. Gardner then defended his title the next year, before another imperious two-year stretch in 1991-92. In an era where Australia’s 500cc GP riders regularly took time out from their busy schedules to race in the 8 Hour, Kevin Magee (1987-8, Mick Doohan (1991) and Daryl Beattie (1992) also won the event. Moreover, former New Zealand great Graeme Crosby dominated the 1980 event on a Suzuki. Honda hasn’t been defeated in the 8 Hour since 1996, when Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga won on a Yamaha. In all, Honda has 20 wins, ahead of Yamaha (four), Suzuki (two) and Kawasaki (one).