Last 15th December, the MFJ (Motorcycling Federation of Japan) presented their own “Hall of Fame” and announced its very first member: Mitsuo Ito, the first Japanese rider to win a GP (1963 Tourist Trophy). For sure, one of the riders who’ll join him in All Japan Hall of Fame in the future is Katsuyuki Nakasuga, currently the most successful rider in the history of All Japan Road Race Championship.
Here some statistics confirming what we’ve said above: eight JSB1000 titles (including five consecutive ones), four wins and three pole positions at Suzuka 8 Hours (including last year’s victory, despite not racing due to injury) and the podium scored at Valencia MotoGP round in 2012, when he replaced injured Ben Spies inside the factory Yamaha Racing team. The rider from Fukuoka Prefecture has already won everything he could win, but he hasn’t got enough yet…
After a troubled 2017, last year Nakasuga returned on the All Japan Superbike throne with an amazing season, whose only setback was the injury suffered at Suzuka 8 Hours. The main protagonist of Yamaha Factory’s career in All Japan has belonged to the manufacturer based in Iwata since when he raced in GP250 class in 2000. Back then, Nakasuga rode a private Yamaha TZ250 lined up by Technospeed Nakasuga Team and that season was the first one of a series of 19, during which the Japanese scored unparalleled achievements at national level. After 5 years spent in GP250 class (during which he finished 5th in 2002 and 2004 and even qualified 2nd at 2003 World Championship GP at Suzuka, as a wildcard entry), Nakasuga moved to JSB1000 class in 2005, as he was signed by SP Tadao Racing Team of Tadashi ‘Tadao’ Suzuki to ride one of their Yamaha machines. Kats finished his very first season in the class in 12th place and then the experience gained during 2006 helped him in scoring his first wins in JSB1000 the year after, when he triumphed at Autopolis and Okayama and scored more points than any other during the second half of the season.
The astonishing growth experienced from 2005 to 2007 led Nakasuga to win his very first All Japan Superbike championship title in 2008 and then to do an encore in 2009, when he joined YSP Racing Team (where YSP is the acronym for Yamaha Sport Plaza) owned by former 500cc World Championship rider Tadahiko Taira. After shooting blanks in 2010 and 2011, Nakasuga became All Japan Superbike Champion for five times in a row from 2012 to 2016. Moreover, he scored four consecutive Suzuka 8 Hours wins from 2015 to 2018.
Almost-39-year-old Kats is already the most successful rider in All Japan history, as Shinichi Itoh scored “just” 4 top-class titles (500cc in 1990, Superbike in 1998 and JSB1000 in 2005 and 2006) and Hideyuki Nakayoh “just” five All Japan titles overall (in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2004, always in 125cc class). Now, Nakasuga has just one ultimate and unique record to beat, as he needs two more wins at Suzuka 8 Hours to do better than Tohru Ukawa (who boasts five wins in his name). Yamaha Factory has been dominating the event for four editions and for sure, this will make a bit easier Nakasuga’s way to this further record…
ALL THE RECORDS SET BY KATSUYUKI NAKASUGA
– 8 All Japan Superbike titles (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)
– 4 Suzuka 8 Hours wins (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
– 3 Suzuka 8 Hours pole positions (2012, 2013, 2017)
– 1 MotoGP podium (2nd at 2012 Valencian GP)
– 47 race wins in All Japan Road Race Championship (1 in GP250, 46 in JSB1000)
– 46 wins in All Japan Superbike/JSB1000
– 10 consecutive wins in All Japan Superbike (from 2015 Autopolis to 2016 Okayama rounds)
– 75 podiums in All Japan Superbike/JSB1000
– 2108 points scored in All Japan Superbike/JSB1000
Translated by Alessandro Palma