Former 250cc World Championship runner-up Shinya Nakano
has announced his retirement from racing.
“I think it's time to stop and I have decided to retire,” said the 32-year-old. “Thanks to everyone who has supported me during 13 years as a professional racer and eleven years in the world championships.
“Now, if my experience is a little help, I want to contribute to the motorcycle industry. I look forward to seeing everyone at the track in the near future, this time in a different capacity.”
Although he spent 2009 in the World Superbike Championship with Aprilia, Nakano is best known for his ten full seasons in grand prix racing - two in 250cc and then eight in 500cc/MotoGP.
Nakano finished second on his grand prix debut as a wild-card in the 1998 250cc Japanese Grand Prix, propelling him into a full time ride for Herve Poncharal's Chesterfield Yamaha Tech 3 team the following season.
The #56 won his second race for the team, again at home in Japan, while four further podiums pushed him to fourth in the 1999 standings. Shinya then continued his sharp upward trajectory the following season, when he won five races and took twelve podiums - but lost the world title to team-mate Olivier Jacque just metres from the finish at Philip Island.
Tech 3, Jacque and Nakano all graduated to 500cc with Yamaha for 2001 and Nakano claimed the first of just three premier-class podiums with third position at round nine in Germany, on his way to an excellent fifth in his rookie season (ten places ahead of Jacque). It would be by far Nakano's highest ranking in 500cc/MotoGP.
Nakano looked to have a brilliant future ahead of him, but the arrival of the new four-stroke era saw Tech 3's two-strokes outgunned for much of the 2002 season. The team were handed YZR-M1s for the last three rounds, but Yamaha's first four-stroke was no match for Honda's RC211V and Nakano finished the season eleventh in the standings, a best of fifth on the 500 and sixth on the M1.
The arrival of Alex Barros
at Tech 3 for 2003 saw Nakano shift to the d'Antin Yamaha team, but he was unable to better fifth position on the pre-Valentino Rossi version M1, and took tenth in the championship.
Nevertheless, his continued efforts caught the attention of Kawasaki, which tempted the Japanese with the chance to be a full factory rider for the first time in MotoGP, albeit on the least competitive factory machine.