Suzuki's Japanese factory rider Yukio Kagayama will race a GSX-R1000 in the British Superbike Championship in 2003 and he isn't afraid of upsetting the regular contenders by taking them on and trying to beat them in their own backyard.

Kagayama rode for Suzuki's full factory MotoGP team as recently as July this year at the Sachsenring in Germany and will join former double BSB Champion John Reynolds in a formidable line-up of machinery and riders for next season.

He will be the first ever Japanese rider to take part in the BSB Championship. An even more significant milestone is the fact he is the first factory rider to be appointed to the BSB Championship. Suzuki Motor Corporation has placed him in its UK BSB team, demonstrating its commitment to the acclaimed British series, as well as its determination to win.

Kagayama, from Yokohama in Japan, is a factory Suzuki rider who has been competing since 1990. He has been a full-time factory Suzuki rider since 1993, when he started testing for the 500cc GP team. The fearless 28-year-old is coming to the British Superbike Championship to make his mark in what is widely recognised as the strongest domestic Superbike Championship in the world.

Kagayama said: "I am really looking forward to riding in Britain next year. It is known as a very competitive Championship and I couldn't ask for a better proving ground for my talent. With the Crescent Suzuki squad, I will be riding for a professional team that already has a long history with Suzuki and knows our bikes and how to get the best from them. I do not think I have anything to worry about and will be going for race victories right from the start. While I respect the riders in the Championship, I am not afraid of riding with them...and trying to beat them."

Learning the tracks will be one of Kagayama's biggest challenges, but at Sachsenring this year, on Suzuki's GSV-R MotoGP racer, he not only learnt the track in four-hours of practice before the race, but he out-qualified his Suzuki team-mate and regular GP rider Sete Gibernau by taking 11th on the grid, only 0.474s off pole position.

"I would like to challenge for the British Superbike Championship. It will be difficult, but I think the new GSX-R1000 is capable of winning, I'll be on my familiar Dunlop tyres and I know I am able to win. I will certainly have one of the best teams supporting me and I will be giving 100 per cent," he said.

Suzuki GB's General Manager for Motorcycle Sales, Nick Barnes, added: "Yukio has worked hand-in-hand with the Factory to develop the GSV-R into a machine that is improving race by race in MotoGP. He probably would have finished well up the top 10 in his MotoGP ride at Sachsenring this year if he hadn't been taken out by another rider. His background and pedigree are fantastic, and on top of that, his ability to work on a machine and make it into a winner is a talent that we can benefit from. He will strengthen the Suzuki team in British Superbikes in 2003 and with the latest version of the awesome GSX-R1000 to use, I'm sure Suzuki can look forward to an exciting and successful 2003."

Suzuki team boss Paul Denning continued: "Yukio Kagayama is a factory rider who has ridden against the best riders in the world and proved his ability. We are proud that Suzuki Motor Corporation trusts our ability as a team to do one of its top factory riders justice and we aim to repay that faith with good results.

"Having Yukio ride for us next year when he could have been in MotoGP or World Superbikes is a real thrill. It is also a boon to the BSB series, proving once again it is one of the most highly regarded and competitive Championships in the world. Not only does it mean we have one of the strongest rider line-ups in the series, but a new talented rider who is going to come to the UK and shake up the establishment. His talent is beyond doubt and with John Reynolds beside him, both of them on highly developed GSX-R1000 Superbikes, and with the telemetry and data we have from 2002, we will start next season at a run."



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