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Aoyama: the last 250 World Champion

Set to replace the injured Jack Miller this weekend, we take a closer look at the HRC test rider and former intermediate class Champion

Three home heroes will be on the grid for the Japanese GP at Motegi: last minute Jonas Folger stand-in Kohta Nozane at Monster Yamaha Tech 3, wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamalube Yamaha Factory Racing), winner of the 2017 Suzuka 8H alongside Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes, and Hiroshi Aoyama, the final 250 World Champion – who replaces Jack Miller at EG 0,0 Marc VDS after the Australian broke his leg in training. Aoyama, an HRC test rider, was last on the grid to replace Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) last season at Motegi after the Spaniard broke his collarbone on Friday.

Video Highlights (race 250cc)

Aoyama is a two-time winner at Motegi, in 2005 and 2006 on 250cc machinery, and is the most recent Japanese rider to have been on the podium at home – in 2009. That was also in the 250 World Championship, as the Chiba native put together an impressive season that culminated in the crown. A winner at Jerez, Assen, Donington and Silverstone, the Japanese rider added three further podiums to his tally that year and arrived at the season finale in Valencia with a 21-point advantage over Marco Simoncelli. Managing the pressure despite a run off that dropped him down the order, Aoyama took the crown with P7 as Simoncelli failed to finish – engraving his name in history as the final master of the 250cc category.

Aoyama celebrates his first 250cc title

With the category changing to Moto2™ in 2010, Aoyama holds and will forever hold a high honour in the history books.

Aoyama discusses victorious 2009 season