Ex-WorldSBK, BSB favourite Yukio Kagayama announces retirement at 48

Former WorldSBK and BSB race-winning fan favourite Yukio Kagayama, 48, announces his retirement from racing after almost three decades with Suzuki

Yukio Kagayama - Suzuki Alstare, 2005 WorldSBK

Former WorldSBK and British Superbike Championship fan favourite Yukio Kagayama has announced he will be hanging up his helmet after a Superbike career spanning almost three decades.

A life-long Suzuki racer, Kagayama enjoyed success at international, plus British and Japanese domestic level, picking up race wins and proving a perennial front runner across all three championships, even if he failed to lift a title trophy once.

Now aged 48, Kagayama made his superbike racing debut in the All-Japan Road Race Championship, where he competed for seven seasons before spending a year as official test rider for the Suzuki MotoGP team on the GSV-R.

From 2003 he ventured to Europe for the first time with an entry into the British Superbike Championship as part of the Crescent Racing-run Rizla Suzuki outfit.

A run to third overall in the 2004 earned Kagayama a seat in the Suzuki Alstare WorldSBK team, mounting a title challenging run in 2005 and scoring four wins over a seven-season stint.

Returning to the Japanese domestic series in 2011 with his own Team Kagayama Suzuki set up, Kagayama continued to compete as a front runner right up to 2021 - finishing fourth in the standings - but says declining competitiveness has prompted his decision to retire.

“I announce that I am closing my career as a rider here. In the last two seasons I was no longer able to fight for the victory and consequently I made this choice. 

“The many injuries suffered made it difficult for me to run and sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I don’t have that motivation anymore than when I was young.”