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Jan 21, 2002

Suzuki Hosts Champions In Japan

From a press release:


Hamamatsu, Japan, January 21st 2002

Suzuki's 2001 Championship-winning riders from around the world were honoured at a special ceremony in Hamamatsu, Japan last Saturday, (19th Jan 2002).

A total of 23 World and National Suzuki mounted champions were presented to a special guest list of top factory officials and media who toasted Suzuki's continuing competition success at the begining of the year marking 50 years of Suzuki motorcycle production.

From left, U.S. Champions Mark Junge, Jimmy Moore, Rodney Smith, Angelle Savoie, Buddy Antunez and Mat Mladin.
World 250 Motocross Champion Mickael Pichon and his RM250WS MX machine took centre stage with the SERT World Endurance Championship winning team of Christian Lavieille, Laurent Brian and Brian Morrison, and they were joined by All Japan Roadrace Superbike Champion Akira Ryo and AMA Superbike Champion Mat Mladin with their GSX-R750 machines. Sharing the spotlight and the applause of the specially invited guests were Suzuki's 2001 championship winning stars from around the world.

Emphasising the superiority of Suzuki's legendary GSX-R machines on the race tracks of the world were All Japan Road Race X-Formula Champion Keiichi Kitagawa (GSX-R1000), American 750 Supersports Champion Jimmy Moore (GSX-R750), British Superstock Champion Paul Young (GSX-R1000), British Supersports Champion Karl Harris (GSX-R600), German Superstock Champion Claus Ehrenberger (GSX-R1000), American WERA National Endurance Champion Mark Junge (GSX-R1000) and Australian Superbike Champion Shawn Giles GSX-R1000).

Suzuki's success doesn't stop on the tarmac. The factory has won more world motocross titles than any other manufacturer and Pichon's 2001 win giving them an unprecedented 30 championship victories. In national off-road championships around the world the famous bright yellow Suzuki RM machines were also making their mark. In the USA, Rodney Smith won the AMA Grand National Cross Country Series on his RM250, while Buddy Antunez took the National Arenacross Series with his RM125 and RM250 machines. Both of the Americans were at the ceremony to pick up their awards and to join the applause for the diminutive 16-year-old Saya Suzuki who took her RM85 to the All Japan MX Ladies Class title.

Saya Suzuki wasn't the only female Suzuki-mounted champion though - Angelle Savoie also joined the celebations after her win in the American NHRA Pro-Stock Dragrace Series.

European Superstock Champion James Ellison (GSX-R1000), AMA 125 Eastern Supercross Champion Travis Pastrana (RM125), AMA Formula Xtreme Champion John Hopkins (GSX-R1000), Australian Supersport Champion Joshua Brookes (GSX-R600), New Zealand Open Sport Production Champion Andrew Stroud (GSX-R1000) and New Zealand Sport Production & Formula 2 Champion Shaun Harris (GSX-R600) were all unable to attend the ceremony, but were presented with their awards in their absence.

Welcoming the champions to the ceremony, Mr. Sokichi Nakano, Executive Vice President, Overseas Marketing Operations, Suzuki Motor Corporation said, "I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere and warm congratulations and to express Suzuki's formal appreciation to all the Champions here today. Suzuki started its motorcycle business here in Hamamatsu back in 1952 and and I am extremely happy to be here with you all to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our motorcycle business.

"Our outstanding track performance in 2001 couldn't have been accomplished without your riding skills, hard efforts and dedicated determination. On top of these elements we can't forget the support of your team managers, mechanics and other team members and sponsors. So I would be grateful if you could convey our special thanks to all those people when you return home.

"This dominant racing reputaion in all forms of motorcycle competition has been a vital factor in raising the Suzuki brand image, and consequently our sales, across our product range. In fact, export figures for last year show that Suzuki is now the leading exporter of complete built-up motorcycle units in the prime over 251cc sector."

The Ceremony also marked the announcement of Suzuki's exciting new GSX-R Cup promotion that will see riders from 18 countries around the world competing for places at the GSX-R Cup Final at Magny Cours in September 2002. Full details of the event will be made available next month.

2002 Suzuki Champions

Akira Ryo. All Japan Road Race Superbike Champion. GSX-R750.

Keiichi Kitagawa. All Japan Road Race X-Formula Champion. GSX-R1000.

Saya Suzuki. All Japan MX Ladies Champion. RM80.

Mickael Pichon. 250cc World MX Champion. RM250WS.

Travis Pastrana. AMA 125cc Eastern Supercross Champion. RM125.

Rodney Smith. AMA Grand National Cross Country Series Champion. RM250.

Buddy Antunez. AMA National Arenacross Champion. RM125.

Mat Mladin. AMA Superbike Champion. GSX-R750.

John Hopkins. AMA Formula Xtreme Champion. GSX-R1000.

Jimmy Moore. AMA 750 Supersport Champion. GSX-R750.

Mark Junge. WERA National Endurance Champion. GSX-R1000.

Angelle Savoie. NHRA Pro-Stock Champion. GSX-R.

Christian Lavieille. Endurance World Cup Champion. GSX-R1000.

Laurant Brian. Endurance World Cup Champion. GSX-R1000.

Brian Morrison. Endurance World Cup Champion. GSX-R1000.

Karl Harris. British Supersport Champion. GSX-R600.

Paul Young. British Superstock Champion. GX-R1000.

James Ellison. European Superstock Champion. GSX-R1000.

Claus Ehrenberger. International German Superstock Champion. GSX-R1000.

Shawn Giles. Australian Superbike Champion. GSX-R1000.

Joshua Brookes. Australian Supersport Champion. GSX-R600.

Andrew Stroud. New Zealand Open Sport Production Champion. GSX-R1000.

Shaun Harris. New Zealand Sport Production & Formula 2 Champion. GSX-R600.