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Aug 2, 2003

Seven Stars Honda Angry Over Suzuka 8-Hours Race Safety

From a press release issued by Seven Stars Honda:<BR><BR>The 8 hr race finished after one lap for the #11 Seven Stars Honda of Nicky Hayden and Ryuichi Kiyonari. During the first lap, one machine cruised the track spraying oil all over it. Five machines crashed at Turn 1 including #11 Hayden, #12 Atsushi Watanabe of Yoshimura and #74 Tady Okada. Those machines were carried back to the pit by a wrecker. #11 machine had been repaired and re-started but was black-flagged as the organizer considered that the #11 had been retired when it got on the wrecker.<BR><BR>Nicky Hayden:<BR>There was no oil flag shown at the straight when I got into my second lap. I saw it getting into the Turn 1 but it was too late as the machine started to slide by then. I couldn't do anything at that moment. If I had seen it earlier, I could have slowed down. All the hard works ended with only one lap and I feel bad for the team staff who worked so hard.<BR><BR>Ryuichi Kiyonari<BR><BR>I was worried about Nicky when I saw him crash. Then I was black-flagged when I was riding after the pit-works and I was disappointed. I still don't want to believe our race had finished.<BR><BR>Koji Nakajima, the General Manager<BR><BR>Due to the following reasons, we can not consent with the situation which occurred today: First, although the track condition was dangerous after lap 1 with oil spray all over it, oil flag was not shown at the main straight. Another point is that the machines were put on the wrecker and brought back to the pit following the decision by the organizer. Mr. Isoyo Sugimoto, the Clerk of the Course, explained that it was his decision to put the machines on the wrecker as he thought it was dangerous for the riders to push the machine from Turn 1 to the pit.<BR><BR>Therefore, the machines and riders were put on the wrecker against their wishes. But the organizer stated they were regarded as non-finishers as they got on the wrecker. The situation is totally unacceptable to us. In our opinion, the race should have been stopped at the moment and we think that the organizer is not thinking of the safety seriously. As we can not accept the situation, we made a protest to the Jury. However, no answer had been given at the time of 3:00 p.m. Meanwhile, #11 machine restarted the race after repairing works, but was black-flagged.<BR><BR>As Mr. Fujio Yoshimura had said, spectators who are here this year are enthusiasts and were disappointed by the situation where top teams had disappeared soon after the start. It was lucky that no rider had been seriously injured today, but we would strongly request to the organizer to improve their safety measures.<BR><BR><BR>
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