Sato killed in car crash

Tragedy takes top Japanese racer and development rider

By Adam Duckworth

The Japanese racer and test rider behind many of the legendary works and production bikes from Honda and Yamaha was killed in a car crash in Japan on Friday. Kenji Sato was aged just 58. While he may not be household name to many race fans, Sato was a top Japanese racer and test rider who also contested several GPs.

In his time as one of the most respected test riders of all time, he worked on Honda's RC factory bike and CR production bike range and radical bikes for Honda's sister company Mugen. He then switched to Yamaha and was instrumental in developing the YZ range.

The most radical bike that Sato worked on was the twin-cylinder, seven-speed Honda RC125MT of 1980 that had leading-link Ribi forks. He was teamed up with Johnny O'Mara as development rider, but O'Mara never liked the bike for twisty tracks and an FIM rule change outlawed twin-cylinder bikes before it could get nearer to production.

Our thought are with Sato's family and many friends he had in motocross around the world.

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