Ryuichi Kiyonari has spoken of his shock and sadness at the huge earthquake and tsunami that has devastated vast swathes of his native Japan.
The reigning British Superbike Champion, who is based in the town of Saitama, 30 minutes outside of Tokyo, returned to the UK a few weeks ago, but his wife and young son Kouma has a potentially lucky escape after departing Japan on Thursday – a day before the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck the north east of the country.
Thanking fans for offering their support, Kiyonari confirmed his friends and family have been affected, but are all safe.
"Firstly I would like to thank all the fans who have contacted the HM Plant Honda team and also Honda, to ask if my family are ok. Their concern is very kind and I'm pleased to be able to say that my family are safe.
“It is very shocking to see what is happening in Japan now, it is a very bad situation and it is sad to see the news. Some of the places on the news are places I know well or have been to and there is so much devastation - it is just a shock for me and my family. I have spoken to some of my friends and family in Japan and they have been affected but at the moment not as bad as others.
"My home in Japan is ok from the outside, but inside there is some damage, but I am just happy that my wife and baby came to the UK last Thursday just before it happened. I am very sad for all those who have lost friends and family this week and I am going to try and win the first race at Brands Hatch to dedicate to the people back home who have lost so much."
Almost 3,000 have been confirmed to have died in the disaster, though it is feared the death toll will rise.