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Meet the Wildcards: Motegi

Meet the Wildcards: Motegi

Each class is allowed two wildcard entries at each round, the Motul Grand Prix of Japan will see all these spots filled for the first time.

Japanese riders have a long and proud history of appearing as one off wildcards for their home rounds and producing stunning rides, often upsetting the main players in the World Championship. Perhaps the most famous wildcard was Norick Abe at the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix where he sent fans into a frenzy with his wild style and battled with the most famous names in 500cc racing until falling with just three laps to go. Daijiro Kato appeared as a wildcard in the 250cc class in 1996, 1997 and 1998 with a podium finish on each appearance, including wins in 1997 and 1998.

Many of the names lining up on the grid will be familiar, Honda and Yamaha choosing to run their test riders as a chance to gather yet more data for further development. Katsuyuki Nakasuga will ride a Yamaha M1 under the Yamaha Factory Racing Team banner, the veteran rider having made eight world championship appearances, five in the MotoGP™ class including a fantastic second at the 2012 Valencia GP.  ‘Kats’ Nakasuga is also multiple Suzuka 8-Hours winner, riding alongside Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith to return Yamaha to the top step of the legendary endurance podium in 2015.

Joining Nakasuga on the MotoGP™ grid is fellow Suzuka 8-Hours ace Takumi Takahashi, riding with Team HRC with Nissin. Four times Takahashi has made wildcard appearances at the Japanese GP, a best result of 17th in 2008 when on a 250cc Honda but 2015 will see the three time Suzuka 8-Hours winner make his premier class debut. Takahashi has been present in several pre-season MotoGP™ tests and is the first HRC rider to wild card in the MotoGP™ class since Shinichi Ito in 2011.

Two experienced riders return to the Moto2™ grid with Tomoyoshi Koyama and Yuki Takahashi. From 2005 to 2010 Koyama competed full time in the 125cc World Championship with a best finish of third overall in 2007 while riding for KTM. Since the introduction of the Moto2™ class, Koyama has made 12 starts between 2011 and 2014 but has failed to score points.

With three World Championship wins and a further eight podiums, Yuki Takahashi has perhaps the best pedigree of all the wildcards. In both 2002 and 2003 Takahashi claimed podiums in the 250cc class as a wildcard before joining the World Championship full time in 2005. His first 250cc win came in 2006 at the French GP, followed by a second in Germany. He will contest the Japanese GP with Moriwaki Racing on a Moriwaki as he seeks to repeat the two podiums they achieved together during the 2011 Moto2™ season. Takahashi also claimed a Moto2™victory in Catalunya in 2010 when racing for the Tech 3 team.

In the Moto3™ World Championship MuSashi RT HARC-PRO will field Keisuke Kurihara and Ryo Mizuno on Honda machinery. Both Kurihara and Mizuno compete in the All Japan Road Race Championship series with 17 year old Mizuno having taken to the podium at each round of the 2015 season and currently third in the championship.

MotoGP, 2015, MOTUL GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN, Katsuyuki Nakasuga, Yuki Takahashi, Tomoyoshi Koyama, Takumi Takahashi

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