Suzuki and Yamaha have been the most successful manufacturers at Suzuka with 5 wins each. Honda have taken 4 wins at Suzuka. Honda riders have taken pole on six occasions, Yamaha and Suzuki four times each.

If one of the four-stroke riders should win at Suzuka it will be the first win for a four-stroke machine in Grand Prix racing since Giacomo Agostini won the German Grand Prix in 1976 at the Nurburgring circuit. This was also the last time that a rider of a four-stroke machine finished on the podium at a Grand Prix.

The last time a four-stroke was on pole in any class of Grand prix racing was back in 1976 when Giacomo Agostini qualified in pole position for the 350cc race at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

With the return of Dunlop and the entry of Bridgestone there is the possibility that the domination of the topclass of racing by Michelin shod machines will be brought to an end. Michelin have now won 54 consecutive races, with the last non-Michelin win in the top-class being Simon Crafar's win at Donington back in 1998 riding a Yamaha.

Valentino Rossi had his first success last year at Suzuka, never finishing higher than 11th place in his four previous Grand Prix starts at the circuit. He has never qualified on the front row of the grid for a race at Suzuka. Having taken the last four wins of 2001, Rossi is aiming to become only the sixth rider ever to take five or more consecutive wins in the MotoGP/500cc class, the others being Agostini, Hailwood, Surtees, Doohan and Duke.

Max Biaggi won the 1998 race at Suzuka on his debut ride in the 500 class, taking the fastest race lap and pole position. He also won the 250 race in 1996. Biaggi's second place finish in the World Championship last year was the best performance in the class by a Yamaha rider since Luca Cadalora in 1994.

Loris Capirossi, who has his 29th birthday the day before qualifying starts, qualified on pole last year at Suzuka with a margin of more than eight-tenths of a second, the largest pole margin in the top class for the past 4 years. He finished the race in 8th place, his best result from four starts on a 500 at Suzuka.

Alex Barros has had eleven starts at Suzuka on a 500 with a best result of 5th place in 1994 riding a Suzuki.

Shinya Nakano qualified in second place last year at Suzuka in his debut ride in the 500 class. Nakano scored points in all 15 races he started last year, and has only twice failed to score points in his 49 race Grand Prix career, at Jerez in 1999 when his machine failed and at Estoril in 2000 when he was knocked off his bike by a crashing Tohru Ukawa.

Carlos Checa's 5th place finish in 2000 was his best ever result at Suzuka from his five starts on a 500.

Norick Abe has twice won at Suzuka, in 1996 and 2000, but has never qualified higher than 6th place on the grid in Japan.

Sete Gibernau has made four starts on a 500 at Suzuka with a best result of 10th place in 1998.

Tohru Ukawa has scored three podium finishes from his six starts in the 250 class at Suzuka. He crashed out of the race last year, on his debut ride on a 500, after setting the fastest lap and battling for a podium finish with just 5 laps to go.

Kenny Roberts' second place finish in 2000 at Suzuka is his only podium finish there from his five starts on a 500.

Garry McCoy's second place finish at Suzuka was his best result of the 2001 season.

Nobuatsu Aoki returns to Grand Prix racing after missing the 2001 season doing development work for Bridgestone tyres. He made his GP debut at Suzuka in 1990 riding in the 250cc races as an 18-year-old. He has finished in the top eight in each of the ten Grand Prix he has competed at Suzuka in the 250cc and 500cc classes.

Olivier Jacque made his 500cc class debut last year at Suzuka but retired from the race due to injuries suffered in a testing crash.

Tetsuya Harada, who will be racing a four-cylinder machine for the first time, has had considerable success in the 250cc class at Suzuka having started from pole on four occasions, and having won the 250cc race on his way to the title in 1993.

Jeremy McWilliams' best result at Suzuka was his 8th place in 2000 riding an Aprilia V-twin, less than 5 seconds behind the winner Norick Abe.


Loading Comments...