Kawasaki have just issued a press release announcing that Japanse Superbike veteran Akira Yanagawa will make an appearance at the Pacific Grand Prix at Motegi in Japan as a wild card rider. Yanagawa is currently leading the All Japan Superbike Championship riding a Kawasaki ZX-RR, and has an almost legendary status in the world of Superbikes, having helped develop the ZX7R in the late 1990s, and becoming the first Japanese rider to win a World Superbike race outside of Japan. His cult status is also down to his incredibly physical toughness, coming back twice from horrific crashes during the 1998 season, at Monza and Laguna Seca.
Akira Yanagawa is also one of the principal players in Kawasaki's MotoGP story. Yanagawa has been working as Kawasaki's MotoGP tester since the start of the project, basically competing in Japan's Superbike series as a way to keep his hand in at racing. The ride is a recognition of Yanagawa's hard work, and a chance to be more competitive than his last outing on the bike, at the Catalunya Grand Prix in 2003. Yanagawa is always value for money, and sure to put on a good show.