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From the Land of the Rising Sun: The BSB Japanese connection

The news of the arrival of Takumi Takahashi making his Bennetts British Superbike Championship debut this season alongside fellow compatriot Ryo Mizuno in the Honda Racing team marks the welcome return of the Japanese contenders to the British grid.

The Championship has previously been a happy hunting ground for the Japanese riders, most notably with triple champion Ryuichi Kiyonari; ‘King Kiyo’ celebrated title success with the same Honda Racing team in 2006, 2007 and 2010, amassing an impressive tally of 50 race wins in Bennetts BSB during his tenure in the series. However, since his departure at the end of the 2016 season, British fans have been eagerly awaiting the return of the latest Japanese contenders.

It has not just been Kiyonari though who made his mark on the championship; Yukio Kagayama was a firm favourite with the British fans and with his strong partnership with the Rizla Suzuki team, he was a seven-time race winner in the championship, finishing third in the standings in the 2004 title battle.

Former WorldSBK title protagonist Noriyuki Haga also featured in Bennetts BSB, claiming a podium finish with the Swan Yamaha team at Oulton Park during his 2012 season, finishing eighth in the overall standings that year, and the 'Samurai of Slide' was another crowd hero when he arrived into the championship.

Atsushi Watanabe was another Japanese rider who featured in the championship; the former domestic champion joining the Rizla Suzuki and Relentless Suzuki teams during his time in the championship.

However it wasn’t just on track, and previously during the 2005 season, Honda's ex-MotoGP and World Superbike star Tady Okada joined the Honda Racing team when they campaigned in HM Plant Honda colours, supervising the CBR1000RR project with full Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) support, working alongside Kiyonari.

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