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Katoh and Harada lead the way for the Japanese contingent

Katoh and Harada lead the way for the Japanese contingent

Katoh and Harada lead the way for the Japanese contingent

Last year, Daijiro Katoh and Tetsuya Harada were the main protagonists in the 250cc World Championship class. Between the two of them, they dominated the top step of the podium, taking 14 victories from the 16 on offer. Indeed the 2001 season was a fine vintage for Japanese motorcycling, with riders from the Land of the Rising Sun claiming 23 Grand Prix wins in total across all the categories. The previous record for highest number of Japanese victories in one season was set the year previously in 2000, where 18 wins were recorded.

With the SKYY Vodka Grand Prix of Japan just days away, Daijiro Katoh, reigning 250cc World Champion, and the runner-up, Tetsuya Harada, now head the list of the most successful Japanese MotoGP riders, both having claimed 17 career Grand Prix victories, narrowly leading the indomitable veteran, Noboru Ueda. Katoh though holds the advantage in age, he didn't begin to regularly compete in the World Championship until the 2000 season (although this didn't prevent him from claiming 2 victories at Suzuka as a wild-card rider), whereas Harada made his championship debut back in 1993.

This year the two riders will renew their rivalry again, but this time in the elite class of the new MotoGP category. Both riders will be on the same machinery, a Honda NSR500 2-stroke, with Katoh turning out for Fausto Gresini´s set-up, and Harada racing for the newly formed Pramac team.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2002, SKYY VODKA Grand Prix of Japan

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