Kato crash investigation results

Published: 02 December 2003

The Honda investigation committee has ruled out mechanical failure as a cause of the crash that took the life of GP rider Daijiro Kato, in a special press briefing on Friday, November 28.

It has taken seven months since the incident at the Suzuka GP in April to reach a conclusion after speculation that problems with his front brake disc had led to Kato’s crash. In the accident the former world 250cc champion suffered massive head, chest and spinal injuries which eventually led to his death two weeks later.

The committee has ruled out mechanical failure playing any part in the crash by conducting exhaustive tests on Kato’s badly damaged Honda RCV and examining the telemetry data from the bike.

The report said: " Just before the accident there was a sudden change in the pattern of Kato’s movements. He first maintained a deep braking angle as he turned left on the ascent from the 340R corner. What seems to have happened is the rear wheel of Kato’s bike momentarily slipped to the right, leading to a highside-like phenomenon and, in reaction, we assume that the rear wheel abruptly moved in the opposite direction. In this state, the rear wheel regained its grip and increased contact with the ground. This sequence of events caused his bike to go into weave mode, causing Kato’s body to shake off to the left of the bike. Having slid off to the left side of the bike, Kato had to focus all his efforts on maintaining his balance and was not in a position to take sufficient control, causing him to veer sharply off the course to the left. "

The committee also revealed Kato was still on board the Honda RCV as it careered into the trackside tyre barriers at almost 95mph.

Commenting on the results, Kato’s team boss Fausto Gresini said: " I have always been convinced of what the Honda committee has published. Unfortunately though, this decision leaves unchanged the great tragedy Daijiro Kato’s family and team have experienced. I recall those sorrowful days. I believe this kind of investigation had to be done to make things clear and to avoid any kind of doubt and indiscretion, but the case can now be considered definitely over. There is no more space for insinuations or allegations, and in my heart there will always be a terrible sadness for the loss of a dear friend. "

For more on this story, including the investigation into the trackside medical assistance Kato received and more on the events leading up to the crash, see MCN, out December 3. Discuss this story on the MotoGP board by following the link on the right.