Yukio Kagayama is smiling broadly after being called up to ride the GSV-R MotoGP bike at the Qatar GP in the Middle East on October 2 in place of the injured Kenny Roberts Jr.

Roberts dislocated his left elbow and suffered burns to the right side of his body when he was inadvertently caught up in a multi-rider crash at the last round of the Championship at Motegi in Japan. He has been ruled out of racing at Qatar, leaving the door open for the Japanese racer to show what he can do against the world's best riders.

Kagayama has just finished third - and taken four victories - in the prestigious British Superbike Championship on his Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000, a tremendous effort as he has been dogged by injury for the last 12-months and is only now showing a return to top form.

The 30-year-old from Bournemouth is both honoured and thrilled to be racing the ever-improving GSV-R MotoGP bike. In recent races it has shown a new turn of speed that Kagayama hopes will help him crown an already good season with some world championship success.

"I feel sorry that Kenny cannot race at Qatar and I hope he makes speedy recovery," said Kagayama. "I am honoured to be taking his place in the Suzuki team for this race and I will do my best to get a good result for him and my Suzuki team.

"This is not first time on the GSV-R; in 2003 I was test rider and enjoyed some wild card entries and good battles with MotoGP riders. I think the GSV-R is fast improving and is good bike to ride."

The Grand Prix of Qatar is new to the MotoGP calendar for 2004 and takes place on Saturday, October 2nd at a purpose built 5.4km long circuit near the city of Doha.

"All riders go to Qatar with no circuit experience and maybe this is a small advantage to me," said Yuki. "I have raced in British Superbikes for two years where I have had to learn tracks quickly to be competitive and I am used to this sort of pressure.

"I am much excited. John Hopkins put the GSV-R on front row at last race in Japan and I think the potential for a good result is maybe okay.

"I have enjoyable season with Rizla Suzuki and now I have big chance to race on the biggest stage in the world. I hope my BSB fans will be watching and cheering me on. BSB is high-level series and I want to prove we can race against riders like Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi. I want to finish top British rider in the race!" beamed the popular Japanese.



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