Takahashi talks racing at Motegi
Moving to Europe was initially hard work for 21-year-old 250cc rookie Yuki Takahashi, but he has quickly adapted to life in the Kopron Team Scot structure, and now adores his adopted country of Italy. Having been seduced by the obvious charms of the Mediterranean lifestyle, he has blossomed both as a GP rider and as a bilingual English and Japanese speaker.
This weekend he will back on familiar ground at the Japanese Grand Prix held at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. After making his first Grand Prix appearance at the Kansai circuit in 2001 in the 125cc class, Takahashi clinched a sensational third position there in 2002 as a wild-card rider in the 250cc class, becoming at the age of just 18 the third youngest rider, at the time, ever to finish on a podium in the quarter litre class.
The Kopron Team Scot rider has taken time out to talk about racing at Motegi and also the prospect of facing old friend rival Hiroshi Aoyama, as well as younger brother Kouki, at one of his old stomping grounds.
Why is the Twin Ring Motegi so special for you?
It's special solely because we have the Japanese GP at Motegi. I like all the circuits in Japan, more or less, but Suzuka is my favourite because it's much more interesting to race at.
Which are your favourite sections of the track and why?
The section at the end of the downhill straight - the right hand corner there is great to ride. I don't like the last part of the track it's too slow and not very demanding.
What has been your best race at TRM?
The 2002 GP when I finished third. I also have good memories of Motegi last year, I won the last race of the year and won the All Japan Championship, just as Hiro (Aoyama) did before me.
Do you feel extra pressure on you at your home GP?
Pressure is no problem for me; I get extra energy from pressure. My family and friends will be at Motegi but it will not put me under any pressure to go faster, I always want to win.
You will lock horns with Hiro again at TRM. How do you feel about that?
It will be good, we will both be fighting for the win at TRM, but I must win. Hiro has one year more experience than me in the world championship but at Motegi we are level in terms of experience. If we are together it will be a good race for us.
You will also race against your brother Kouki at TRM. How do you feel about that prospect?
He is very young, 17 years old and racing in the All Japan Championship for the first time so it will be very difficult for him at TRM. Of course, I will give him advice if he needs it as we are very close. When I go back to Japan we go out riding together. Our other brother, the youngest, is into football not motorcycles.
What are your predictions for the race?
I have a good feeling about the race, I have been riding much better since Donington and Sachsenring. I feel very good on the bike now, we are definitely heading in the right direction and I am very happy.