Norick Abe, the first home rider to win the Japanese 500cc Grand Prix in 1996, died in a road accident on this day in 2007.

Abe claimed three wins and 17 podiums as a premier-class rider between 1995 and 2004.

Click Here to read our full profile of Abe, whose riding style as a wild-card in 1994 thrilled a young Valentino Rossi, watching on the TV in Italy:

"I was struck immediately by this wild-card named Norifumi Abe," Rossi wrote in his official autobiography What if I had never tried it. "Abe had long straight hair and even when he was standing still, he looked like a great character. But most of all, he rode like a madman. He was absolutely fearless. I think that that day was the fastest race of his life.

"His racing style made me think he was an absolute nutter. He took turns with his steering locked, and often had to keep himself up with his knee. His suit was usually smoking, and he overtook in the most outrageous spots. His steering finally gave out and he fell... But to me, Abe was a hero."



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