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Japanese Wild-cards looking to make an impression once again on home soil

Japanese Wild-cards looking to make an impression once again on home soil

Japanese Wild-cards looking to make an impression once again on home soil

Rarely have GP wild-card riders been stronger than in Japan with regards to their results over the years and now a new group of hopefuls have another opportunity to demonstrate their skills in the second race to be hosted by their country in the 2003 calendar with the Gauloises Pacific Grand Prix in Motegi.

In the past it's not been unusual to see local riders causing a surprise or two, stamping some authority on their territory, and this weekend the five best riders of the Japanese Championships will be looking to mix with the top group of protagonists that still have to decide the destination of this years title.

The five invited riders are actually fighting for Championship honours in their domestic series, that will be wrapped-up in two weeks time after the events in Motegi, and all of them have previous experience on the GP stage.

After a four year spell away from the GP paddock, 32 year old Masaki Tokudome, returns steering a Yamaha. Since making his first appearance in 1994, Tokudome switched to campaigning the 125cc Championship with Honda. However he earned his best result in 1996 after switching saddle to Aprilia. Guiding the Italian machine he eventually finish runner-up in the Championship in a season where he also scored three wins. 1999 was his last year in GPs, spent in the 250cc class, but his best finish was a lowly ninth.

Honda riders Hiroshi Aoyama and Yuki Takahashi will again be hoping to snare podium positions. Both have already made an impression this year at the opening race of the season in Suzuka. Back then, in rainy conditions, they both fought for second position and the tussle was eventually won by Aoyama, as the Japanese podium was headed by Manuel Poggiali. For Aoyama, who actually leads the way in the Japanese series, this will be his eighth outing in the World Championships, while Takahashi is hoping to complete his third appearance in the quarter-litre category.

Tomayoshi Koyama made his debut this year at Suzuka and fell on the first lap after a problem with his engine. This season he has won two races in his national Championships, with Yamaha, one of which was earned at the round held at Motegi. Choujun Kameya, another Honda man, is the cousin of Daijiro Kato. Kameya will be making his fourth start in a GP. In his first attempt back in 1997 he collected 15th position and in his third, one year later, he was 13th.

250cc, 2003

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