Minichamps MIN122037174 2003 Honda RC211V Team Telefonica Movistar MotoGP Bike - Daijiro Kato (1:12 Scale)
"The one thing I really regret is that I haven't achieved any good results on the NSR500 for a while. I'm very determined to get a satisfactory result at Sachsenring, my last race on the NSR! I would like to take the opportunity to thank Fortuna, Honda, HRC and Fausto (Gresini), for supporting me so well in GP racing. I will give 100% to come up to their expectations."
- Daijiro Kato
In the 2002 World Motorcycle Grand-Prix season, bikes with 2-stroke 500cc engines raced alongside bikes with 4-stroke 990cc engines. The result of this new format was as everyone expected it to be, 4-stroke engine bikes like Repsol Honda RC211V dominated. Its V5 engine, the first to ever be employed on a motorcycle, further enhanced the Repsol Honda RC211V. The fuel tank was placed below the seat, and the bike employed Honda's all-new "Unit Pro-Link" suspension design. Packed with revolutionary mechanics, and painted over in flourescent orange, the Repsol Honda RC211V was definitely the bike of the 21st century. From the opening race Valentino Rossi took a 9 consecutive victory sweep. Out of a 16 race series Rossi clutched his 10th victory by the 12th race in Brazil, leaving all competition in the dust, as the Italian rider became the first ever winner in the Moto GP class.
Pictured here is a 1:12 scale replica of a 2003 Honda RC211V replica driven by legendary racer Daijiro Kato. Features a working suspension, removable fairing, and highly detailed components. Also includes a detachable kickstand.
Length: 7 inches
Height: 3.50 inches
Original Issue Price: $61.99
Historical Account: "A Grand Prix Legend" - On April 6th, 2003, during the first race of the MotoGP season at the Japanese Grand Prix held at the Suzuka Circuit, Kato crashed hard and sustained severe head, neck and chest injuries. He was estimated to have hit the wall near the Casio Triangle chicane of the circuit at around 125 mph (200 km/h).
The Accident Investigation Committee determined that Kato crashed when he lost control of his machine, which entered a near high-side state, followed by an uncontrollable oscillating weave resulting in him leaving the track and striking the barrier. Initially he and the bike struck a tire barrier, followed by a foam barrier. Importantly, there was a gap between the tire and foam barriers. Kato was fatally injured when his head struck the edge of the foam barrier, dislocating the joint between the base of the skull and the cervical spine.
Questions were raised regarding the actions of the corner workers immediately following the crash. Kato was thrown back onto the track after hitting the barriers and was lying next to the racing line. Normally, when a motorcycle and/or rider are incapacitated on the race track, a red flag is waved and the race stopped so the track can be safely cleared. This did not happen following Kato's accident. Instead, the corner workers moved him onto a stretcher and off the circuit. The race was not stopped.
The Investigation Committee noted : "According to images broadcast during the race, four rescue workers took hold of Kato, who lay collapsed face up in the middle of the course, held him by the right shoulder, the torso and both legs, and moved him sideways just a few dozen centimeters onto the stretcher. It certainly appears that sufficient care was taken to immobilize his head and neck area. However, when the stretcher was moved Kato's head drooped markedly, and it cannot be denied that this might have additionally injured his neck."
Kato spent two weeks in a coma following the accident before dying as a result of the injuries he sustained. The cause of death was listed as brain stem infarction. Many of the MotoGP riders wore black armbands or placed small #74's on their leathers and bikes at the following race in South Africa to pay tribute to the fallen racer. His teammate, Sete Gibernau, has worn a #74 on his racesuit since winning the race in his memory. There has not been a Grand Prix motorcycle race held at Suzuka following Kato's crash, with safety issues at the facility being cited as the reason.
During the 2003 Suzuka 8 Hours race held that July, Honda paid tribute to Kato, a two-time Suzuka winner, by bearing his racing number on the Sakurai Honda bike of Tadayuki Okada and Chojun Kameya (who in Turn 1 crashed on spilt oil on the second lap), along with the bikes of Nicky Hayden and Atsushi Watanabe. Once Tady and the others returned to the pits with their broken bikes, the former 500cc rider was permitted to go back out with a spare bike, as a mark of respect, but was ineligible to win since his original bike was badly damaged. Two hours later, Tady returned to the pitlane to retire the bike amid mass applause from the crowd. At the end of the race, the other Sakurai bikes of Yukio Nukumi and Manabu Kamada (who were still racing), went on to the rostrum to show off Daijiro's helmet bearing his number on the visor, and a photo of him on the bike, as a mark of respect.
Afterwards the FIM retired Kato's number, and the bike number 74 has not been used by any rider since.The FIM named him a Grand Prix "Legend".