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Japanese riders break with tradition after podiumless start to season

Japanese riders break with tradition after podiumless start to season

Japanese riders break with tradition after podiumless start to season

The Japanese riders competing in MotoGP´s smallest category have made a surprisingly poor start to the new campaign, and in doing so have changed the statistics of recent seasons. Up to this point, no Japanese rider has made it on to the podium this season, in stark contrast to the same stage last year when Masao Azuma had already won in both Suzuka and Jerez, and Youichi Ui in Welkom. Between those two riders and compatriot Noboru Ueda, five of the first possible nine podium spots were filled by Japanese riders.

This term, the best result claimed by a Japanese rider is the fourth place of Ueda in Suzuka, and Ueda currently finds himself as the best place Japanese competitor in the championship standings, occupying ninth place with a total of 18 points, some 47 behind the early pace setter, Arnaud Vincent.

You have to go back to the 1988 season to find the last time a Japanese rider didn't make it on to the podium in any of the first three rounds of the 125 championship. Since then, riders from the Land of the Rising Sun have always been present on the winner´s rostrum, although in 1990 and 1992 it was only on one occasion out of the nine possible. The most successful starts made by Japanese riders in recent years came in 1995 and 1998 when they secured seven of the nine podium spots available.

In 1994, 98 and 99, there was a Japanese winner in each of the opening three rounds of the season, and on six occasions in total at the first three meets there has been an all Japanese podium. The first came in Suzuka in 1994 when Tsujimura, Sakata and Nakajoh occupied the podium and the last also came in Suzuka, this time in the 2000 season, when Youichi Ui was followed home by Ueda and Azuma. This season, these are the only three representatives Japan has in the 125 class.

Tags:
125cc, 2002

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