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Hiroshi Aoyama

Hiroshi Aoyama

Even before Hiroshi Aoyama assumed his place at Ten Kate Honda there were suspicions that the second seat alongside Jonathan Rea had become something of a 'poison chalice' having already nixed the WSBK careers of Ruben Xaus and Max Neukirchner before him.
 
Nonetheless, as an ex-MotoGP rider, many felt Japan's highest profile motorcycle rider would find a welcome home in World Superbikes. As it happens, Aoyama's year was more Tamada/Nakano than Biaggi/Melandri, the last-ever 250GP champion struggling to adapt to the Pirelli tyres, which in turn hampered his efforts to set the Fireblade up to his liking.
 
Often faster in races than qualifying (he cracked Superpole just once), Aoyama was a five-time top ten finisher, but never higher than eighth.

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