Tohru Ukawa, injured at Donington Park earlier in the season, bounced back from that painful experience with a trio of podium places, the sequence only blotted by a crash in the rain at Rio, demoting him to third in the championship and leaving the Japanese under pressure to regain second from Max Biaggi.

Currently eight points from second overall, the Japanese rider is determined to give Honda a 1-2 championship finish come season end.

"Obviously I was really disappointed about falling in Rio, but now I have to think positive and look to the remaining four races to do my best, especially at Motegi," he said. "I really want to regain second place in the championship and a good result at home in Japan will be the first step."

Meanwhile, countryman Daijiro Kato is also under pressure after putting his four-stroke on the podium at his Brno debut but has been luckless since then, falling in Estoril and getting knocked off at Rio. Nonetheless, the quietly spoken 2001 250 World Champion is a force to be reckoned with, having won the Motegi 250 GP in 2000, and also having won four Suzuka 250 GPs.

"I like to race at home in Japan and I hope to have more luck at Motegi than I have had at the last two races," he said. "I'm sorry about Rio because we had really good settings for wet conditions, and I had improved the feeling I had with the five cylinder in the wet."



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