[TRACTION] Only motorcycle could rock the life

The memories of Daijiro KATO by Tetsuya HARADA [Part-1: The encounter of two genius in 2001]

  • 2019/7/4

Once upon a time there were two racing riders called as “Genius”. The one is Tetsuya HARADA, and the other Daijiro KATO. They had fought in the WGP250 with the highest level that the ordinary people could have never known. They had pulled and pushed against each other. The two genius had got closer to each other to create their own fights. Tetsuya HARADA looked back over the fierce fights in the 2001 season where the two talents had come and gone.  

Tetsuya HARADA and Daijiro KATO [in the 2001 Rd.9 Germany GP]

The world champion had intercepted a newcomer who made his spectacular debut.

The two brilliant lights are just about to clash with each other.

With completely different colors, sizes, shapes and acts, they are too much glare to see nothing else.

They are coming near little by little as if they were guided by something invisible. 

The two lights.

With generating extreme energy from them, they are sure to know each other. Each has been definitely looking at the other since a while ago, from so far away. 

Each looks down the way to go ahead and have a complete overlap. No, it would never be easy to say that.

They are about to cross each other slowly but certainly, with feeling that something frightful might happen by conflicting and clashing each other.  

The 2001 WGP had been about to start in such an exciting atmosphere. Tetsuya HARADA, the world champion in 1993, and Daijiro KATO, the All Japan Road Race champion in 1997, had been two of the strong favorites to compete the title of the 250.

KATO made his debut to the WGP in the preceding 2000 year. He had got 5 victories and turned the 3rd place in total. He had appeared with impact even with winning the rookie of this year. 

HARADA had fought in the top category of 500 by riding the APRILIA that year. This machine had not worked as intended, with which he had been almost unable even to run the whole race.

“It was after his debut in the WGP this year to talk to Daijiro” said HARADA.

HARADA belonged to the highest 500 and KATO to the 250 had not fought in the same category yet, so that they had had a relaxed relationship to each other.

“Sometimes had I greeted him to say hello in the paddock. I thought he might have been lazy (lol). It might have been hard for him to talk to me because of the generation gap.” 

HARADA born in 1970 had been enough 6 years older than KATO born in 1976 to know him quite a long time ago.

“He had been famous for a man in speed as a child. He had been too small to seat himself even on an underbone type. Yet had he been very fast even if he had to stand to ride (lol). He had already had a reputation at that time.”

In the middle of 2000 season, HARADA decided to switch the class to the 250 next year. The APRILIA 500 machine was made too badly. 

“It had been terrible (lol) I didn’t think it made any sense so that I decided to quit the 500. Due to the contract, I had no choice to remain in the 500 by moving to other team.”

It meant a demotion from the highest class for HARADA.

“The 250 was better than nothing rather than keeping on riding that horrible 500 machine. It was easy for me to decide.”

All races only to win. No winning, no sense to fight. 

HARADA had carried his racing philosophy even as he accepted the demotion of the class. And this philosophy would have called the legendary hard fights against Daijiro KATO in the 2001 WGP250.

However, HARADA hadn’t paid much attention to KATO at that time. Even had he taken it for granted that he could have gone home earlier because the final of 250 was held earlier than that of 500.

In reality, HARADA had an important challenge to switch the class before caring about KATO.

“It had not been very easy to change the machine soon after I started to test the 250 in the end of 2000 season. The 500 had a riding style only with larger displacement, to turn quickly with slowing down properly and to accelerate largely. As for the 250, it needed increasing the cornering speed to the utmost limit.”

The APRILIA RS250 itself got finished well. The latest engine was equipped in his favorite frame that he had developed before.

However, HARADA could not have got used to the 250 easily with the terrible high racing speed.

“I had been really failed until 2000, so that I had been in a bad condition.”

On the other hand, Daijiro KATO had gone with vigor with the rookie of the year in 2000. The HONDA NSR250 was also quite strong with the acceleration force as a weapon. 

“What a huge difference…” HARADA had felt this season become difficult in the pre-opening test in 2001. 

Tetsuya HARADA chaised preceding Daijiro KATO [in the 2001 Rd.8 British GP]

[Left: Daijiro KATO] All Japan Road Race champion in the 250 cc class in 1997. He got the title of WGP250 in his 2nd year with hard-fights against HARADA. [Right: TETSUYA HARADA] All Japan Road Race champion in 1992 and WGP250 champion in 1993. He had always kept higher-ranking by his steady riding and his cool-headed race control.

Text by Go TAKAHASHI, photos by Hidenobu TAKEUCHI and Hiroyuki ORIHARA. 

(To be continued to the Part-2)


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