Hiroshi Aoyama draws on Daijiro Kato inspiration

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Hiroshi Aoyama reckons he drew inspiration from late Japanese star Daijiro Kato after he claimed a historic victory in the final 250GP world championship in Valencia last weekend.

The Scot Honda rider survived a massive scare to become the first Japanese rider to win a world title for Honda since Kato won the 2001 crown. And it was Honda’s first Grand Prix title in any class since Nicky Hayden’s last round MotoGP success at Valencia in 2006.

The Japanese rider miraculously avoided crashing when he ran off the track at the first corner on lap 10, returning in 11th place. 

With Marco Simoncelli leading, Aoyama needed to stay in 11th to clinch the title, but a potentially dramatic finish vanished when title rival Marco Simoncelli crashed out of the lead on lap 21.

Aoyama eventually finished seventh to wrap up the last 250GP title and the emotional 28-year-old said: “I was praying to the sky and I think Daijiro helped me when I ran off the track. I thought I was going to crash but I didn’t and I think Daijiro helped me.

“It feels amazing to win the title but also to win the last ever 250 title is a fantastic milestone.”

Kato died after suffering multiple injuries in the first race of 2003 at the Suzuka circuit in Japan.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt