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Remembering Daijiro Kato

Ten years ago, on April 20, 2003, one of the most talented Japanese motorcycle racers ever passed away after fighting for his life following a high-speed accident at Suzuka during the MotoGP championship series.  Daijiro Kato was 26 years old, humble, polite and adored, particularly in Japan after dominating the 2001 250cc GP championship series . . . taking a record 11 wins in the process.

Kato showed great promise after moving up to the Premier class and wrestling the new 990cc four-stroke v-5 monster Honda, eventually alongside teammate Sete Gibernau.  Kato’s passing is just one reminder of the great danger lurking beneath the beauty of this sport, and the fragile nature of life.  Here are a couple of videos that we selected from YouTube that you might take the time to watch.


  1. Norm G. says:

    domo arigato… dajiroh kato…

  2. Wesley says:

    I was so sad when I heard of this 10 years ago… Still miss him… #74…

  3. Pat says:

    I remember it well. They didn’t air the race on speed here in America. I couldn’t believe he was gone. I had to look for a pirated video to see the tragity myself. What a loss. At least he died doing something he loved. He died honorably. And will always be missed. See ya at the racetracks in heaven.

  4. Mark Orr says:

    RIP Daijiro-san, every MOTO fan misses your smile, your style and the lost dream of a Rossi vs Daijiro rivalry. So sad, I will never forget you. Thank you for your short, brilliant light.

    Mark Orr

  5. mickey says:

    A tragedy, remember it well.

    May 20 we are coming up on the 40 th anniversay of the death of Finnish GP star Jarno Saarinen and Italian Renzo Passolini at Monza due to oil on the track. Remember that one too. It was the first year I started really following GP.

  6. todder says:

    Thanks for the Tribute videos. I’ve just started getting into MotoGP and seen him mentioned in ‘Faster’.

  7. TomBaxter says:

    Thanks for some fine, if tragic, history. Has Suzaka circuit been modified? It looks cramped, little run off room, not great for bikes. Surprising with Honda’s involvement.

    • Norm G. says:

      no, don’t believe it has or rather can’t be…? (not 100% on that) hence the reason we’ve haven’t been back. if it were possible, i’m sure the japanese would’ve moved “heaven and earth” (no pun intended) to correct it since it was one of their own that was lost, on their soil, on their watch.

  8. Philip says:

    Thanks for the videos. I was looking at a picture of Marquez’ bike the other day and
    saw 74 on the fender, for a second I didn’t put it together then I realized, Kato.

  9. Tim says:

    I vaguely remember his death, but it was a year before I really started getting interested in motoGP. It always sucks to lose someone so young, with such a bright future. I always wonder how parents must feel losing a young son to a racing accident. As much as I love the sport, I’m so thankful my son isn’t a racer. These kids have to start so young in order to be stars, and you know they do it with parental support. As a fan I’m thankful that people raise their kids to be stars in this sport, but it has to be tough, knowing the potential consequences. I could never have had the guts to take that risk.

    RIP Daijiro.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I vaguely remember his death, but it was a year before I really started getting interested in motoGP.”

      color yourself lucky. ’03 was prolly the worst year in the history of motorcycling, at least here in the 21st century. ’03 saw the death of katoh at auzuka, the death of big dave on the island (my fave rider ever), and the death of hizzy by chopper (the original OG title winner). a hat-trick of tragedy this.

      • Norm G. says:

        that’d be (S)uzuka. Auzuka’s likely the name of some swanky japanese steakhouse in melbourne.

  10. Gutterslob says:

    Often heard commentators say he’d have been spectacular if he lived, particularly on the 800s. Sadly, we’ll never know. All I do know is that he was a demon on the 250. Some of the lap records he set lasted for 3 or 4 years.

    Hope he’s having fun racing with Simoncelli, Tomizawa and all those that went earlier, up there in that racetrack in the sky.