Featured In the November 2021 issue of Roadracing World:
Kawasaki was the last of the big four Japanese manufacturers to enter World Championship Grand Prix Road Racing. For the 1965 Japanese GP, Kawasaki entered three 125cc rotary valve, twin-cylinder, air-cooled two-stroke racebikes, designated KA-1s. Not surprisingly, the machines were hopelessly outclassed by the competition.
Determined to succeed, a new water-cooled version with an eight-speed gearbox was designed and developed for the 1966 season. Former Suzuki rider Toshio Fujii was contracted for the 1966 GP season. Fujii showed promise at his debut GP in Germany, running sixth until retiring. A fatal crash while practicing for the lightweight TT in the Isle of Man led Kawasaki to withdraw from competition until the final round in Japan.
Kawasaki entered three bikes to be ridden by Aroaka, Ernst Degner, and Dave Simmonds. When Degner crashed in practice, Chris Vincent took over his ride. All three finished in the top 10!
—Historic Racebike Illustrations: 1969 Kawasaki KA-1, by Mick Ofield
Three years on from its GP debut, Kawasaki won the 125cc Grand Prix World Championship with an updated KA-1 in the hands of Dave Simmonds. Read the story of Kawasaki’s first road racing World Championship in the latest issue of Roadracing World!
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