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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 April, 2003, 19:43 GMT 20:43 UK
Kato dies from crash injuries
Daijiro Kato
Kato was 250cc world champion in 2001
Japanese motorcycle star Daijiro Kato died in a Tokyo hospital on Saturday after failing to recover from injuries sustained in the Japan Grand Prix.

The 26-year-old Honda rider suffered serious injuries to the head, chest and neck when he was thrown off his bike after hitting a tyre barrier at Suzuka on 6 April.

Kato, who won the 250cc world championship in 2001, leaves a wife and two children.

"The whole team are close to his family in their time of grief," said a statement from the Telefonica Movistar Honda team.

"The team manager Fausto Gresini and several members of his staff will be flying to Japan for Kato's funeral."

Kato arrived on the world scene in 1996 when he finished third in the 250cc race at Suzuka behind Max Biaggi.

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He secured a grand prix ride in 2000 with Honda but missed out on the 250cc world title in the final race.

The world crown followed in 2001, however, along with new records for most wins in a season (11) and the highest points total in the class.

Kato's death is the first in the sport since another Japanese rider, Nobuki Wakai, was killed at the 1993 Spanish Grand Prix.

However, neither the Honda team inquiry nor the police investigation that followed the crash have been able to pinpoint its cause.

The team statement said: "Honda Racing has examined the motorcycle and analysed the available data regarding its operation, but found no irregularities.

"Based on the currently available information, we have not been able to determine the cause of the accident."


SEE ALSO
Kato still in coma
08 Apr 03  |  Motorbikes

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