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Japan's Grand Prix racing history

Japan's Grand Prix racing history

This weekend's A-Style Grand Prix of Japan will be the 30th occasion that a Grand Prix event has been held in Japan. The very first Japanese Grand Prix was held back in 1963 at the Suzuka circuit.

This weekend's A-Style Grand Prix of Japan will be the 30th occasion that a Grand Prix event has been held in Japan. The very first Japanese Grand Prix was held back in 1963 at the Suzuka circuit.

The motogp.com historians bring you some of the highlights of World Championship racing in Japan in the summary below:

1963 - The first Japanese Grand Prix took place at Suzuka and only catered for the smaller classes, as these were the categories the Japanese manufacturers were mostly interested in. The race victors in the inaugural Grand Prix were 250cc - Jim Redman (Honda), 125cc – Frank Perris (Suzuki) and 50cc - Luigi Taveri (Honda).

1964 & 1965 – The Japanese Grand Prix was held for another two years at Suzuka with the addition of the 350cc class to the race card.

1966 – The Japanese Grand Prix moved to the Fisco circuit and this event saw the first success for home riders when Yoshimi Katayama won the 50cc race riding a Suzuki and Hiroshi Hasegawa won the 250cc race on a Yamaha.

1967 – Following this event at the Fisco circuit, support for Grand Prix racing from the Japanese factories was much reduced as they concentrated on road bike development. Consequently there was a 20 year gap before the next Japanese Grand Prix took place.

1987 – This Grand Prix took place at Suzuka and had races for just 250cc and 500cc machines. Randy Mamola (Yamaha) was the first winner of a premier-class race in Japan while the 250cc race was won by wild-card rider Masaru Kobayashi riding a Honda on Bridgestone tyres.

1988 – Kevin Schwantz won the 500cc race to give the new V-four two-stroke Suzuki its first premier-class victory.

1989 – Schwantz repeated his victory of the previous year after a tremendous battle with great rival Wayne Rainey. John Kocinski won the 250cc race as a wild-card rider while Ezio Gianola won the 125cc race that had been added to the program.

1991 – This event was memorable because of the arrival on the Grand Prix scene of popular Japanese rider Noboru Ueda, who in his debut GP appearance won the race after qualifying on pole position. Ueda went on to compete in 160 GP races in the 125cc class taking 13 wins.

1992 – Mick Doohan won the 500cc race held in wet conditions by more than 28 seconds – this was the first victory for Honda in the premier-class in Japan. See video link on the left for race highlights.

1995 – Ralf Waldmann won the very wet 250cc race after he had fallen mid-race while he had a 30 second lead and re-started without being passed.

1996 – Norick Abe (Yamaha) became the first Japanese rider to win a premier-class Grand Prix on home soil. This year also saw Aprilia taking their first victories in Japan with Max Biaggi in the 250cc race and Masaki Tokudome in the 125cc class. See video link on the left for race highlights.

1997 – Doohan repeated his victory of 1992 in the 500cc race. Daijiro Kato won the 250cc race as a wild-card rider. Kato went on to take a total of five 250cc victories on home soil over the next few years.

1998 – Max Biaggi won on his debut in the 500cc class after qualifying on pole position. See video link on the left for race highlights.

1999 – The Motegi circuit hosted a Grand Prix for the first time. Kenny Roberts won the 500cc race on a Suzuki, while the home crowd had plenty to cheer in the smaller classes with Shinya Nakano winning the 250cc race and Masao Azuma the 125cc race.

2000 – For the first time two Grand Prix events were held in Japan; the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka and the Pacific Grand Prix at Motegi. This continued for a further three years. At Suzuka all three races were won by home riders; 500cc –Abe, 250cc – Kato, 125cc - Youichi Ui. This was the first time that Japanese riders had won in all three classes at the same Grand Prix event.

2001 – Valentino Rossi won the 500cc race at Suzuka – the 500th Grand Prix win for Honda across all the classes.

2002 – At the Suzuka circuit Valentino Rossi won the first ever race of the four-stroke MotoGP era riding the five cylinder Honda 990cc machine.

2003 – This event will always be remembered for the tragic accident that took the life of Japanese star Kato. Following this event the Suzuka circuit was considered too dangerous for Grand Prix racing and all subsequent Japanese Grand Prix have been held at Motegi.

2005 – Loris Capirossi riding a Ducati became the first rider to win a premier-class Grand Prix in Japan on a non-Japanese motorcycle.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007, A-STYLE GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN

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